Creating irresistible demand
for a global atmosphere upgrade

Bruce Sterling's Viridian Design Movement


Viridian Note 00455: Al Gore 2005
by Bruce Sterling
Key concepts:
Al Gore, Greenhouse effect, weather violence, climate heroes
Attention Conservation Notice:
who on Earth wants to read a speech by Al Gore?


A classic Wexelblat disaster here. Storm blows out rails, train goes off rails.,,3-1849061,00.html

"Red China" becoming "Green China." Tom "Flatworld" Friedman thinks that we non-Chinese ought to be all worried about that. Look, if Red China genuinely and miraculously became a truly Green China, it would be high time for the rest of us to gratefully welcome our global Chinese overlords. They'd be leading world civilization to a new sunlit upland. The rest of us layabouts could move over to China to open boutiques.

Weapons of mass destruction found! They were dumped onto the US continental shelf by the US military. Enthusiastic fisherman, hastily exterminating the remaining fish stocks, are dragging them up whole with fishing nets.

"Intelligent designers" revealed! Man, is that ever funny   but why is it even remotely necessary for sophisticated people to make fun of this utter crap?

Source: Salon

(((The United States came amazingly close to having this guy become President. Now, although physical reality is lavishly backing up Al Gore's oft-rehearsed environmental themes, he's writing plaintive screeds for dodgy little online zines like SALON   rather than making legislation. Well, we do what we can, eh?)))

"The time to act is now "The climate crisis and the need for leadership.

By Al Gore

Nov. 04, 2005

"It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly and wisely. 'Global warming' is the name it was given a long time ago. But it should be understood for what it is: a planetary emergency that now threatens human civilization on multiple fronts. Stronger hurricanes and typhoons represent only one of many new dangers as we begin what someone has called 'a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.'

(((I wonder who that "someone" was; he's sure got a nice line of gab. I also wonder why politicians always say "the time to act is now," even when it's crystal-clear that the proper time to act was quite a long time ago.)))

"As I write, my heart is heavy due to the suffering the people of the Gulf Coast have endured. In Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and particularly in New Orleans, thousands have experienced losses beyond measure as our nation and the world witnessed scenes many of us thought we would never see in this great country. But unless we act quickly, this suffering will be but a beginning. (((Due to lag-time in climate change, it's just a beginning EVEN IF we do act quickly.)))

"The science is extremely clear: Global warming may not affect the frequency of hurricanes, but it makes the average hurricane stronger, magnifying its destructive power. In the years ahead, there will be more storms like Katrina, unless we change course. Indeed, we have had two more Category 5 storms since Katrina   including Wilma, which before landfall was the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic. (((It sure is subversive to blandly recite the facts in an era so pulverized by neocon Lysenkoism. Al also believes in evolution, by the way. In fact, Al knows rather a lot about science. In his day, the Internet was thriving.)))

"We know that hurricanes are heat engines that thrive on warm water. We know that heat-trapping gases from our industrial society are warming the oceans. We know that, in the past 30 years, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes globally has almost doubled. It's

time to connect the dots:

"Last year, the science textbooks had to be rewritten. They used to say, 'It's impossible to have a hurricane in the South Atlantic.' We had the first one last year,

in Brazil. Japan also set an all-time record for typhoons last year: 10. The previous record was seven.

(((Also, tropical storm Vince managed to last long enough to cross the entire Atlantic hit Spain this year. An amazing tale, isn't it? But wait till next year.))) Link:

"This summer, more than 200 cities in the United States broke all-time heat records. Reno, Nev., set a new record with 10 consecutive days above 100 degrees. Tucson, Ariz., tied its all-time record of 39 consecutive days above 100 degrees. New Orleans   and the surrounding waters of the Gulf   also hit an all-time high.

(((I wonder what sci-fi novelist and self-appointed climate expert Michael Crichton makes of all this. Has anybody asked Mike lately? Maybe he thinks that leftists have rigged all the thermometers.))) "This summer, parts of India received record rainfall   37 inches fell in Mumbai in 24 hours, killing more than 1,000 people.

(((Might I point out that the valiant Indians handled their mayhem rather more gracefully than Bush did Katrina? Oh, and then there's Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, that sworn enemy of Kyoto... I wonder if Haley will be available to take press questions when Trent Lott's newly repaired house blows down, yet again.)))

"The new extremes of wind and rain are part of a larger pattern that also includes rapidly melting glaciers worldwide, increasing desertification, a global extinction crisis, the ravaging of ocean fisheries, and a growing range for disease 'vectors' like mosquitoes, ticks and many other carriers of viruses and bacteria harmful to people. (((Nice list. I don't know about you, but I'm still in an almighty sweat about losing two buildings in New York.)))

"All of these are symptoms of a deeper crisis: the 'Category 5' collision between our civilization   as we currently pursue it   and the Earth's environment.

(((Okay, let's weigh the odds here: industrial civilization, two hundred years old; Earth's environment, 4,500,000,000 years old. Well, if those two collide, at least it won't last long.)))

"Sixty years ago, Winston Churchill wrote about another kind of gathering storm. When Neville Chamberlain tried to wish that threat away with appeasement, Churchill said, 'This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste, of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year   unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we rise again and take our stand for freedom.'

(((Okay, first, I wish we had politicians today who could orate as well as Churchill. Second, I'm tired of utter mayhem in the name of "freedom." Al Qaeda are "freedom-fighters" and they ran a dungeon big as Afghanistan; Bush is a "freedom-fighter" and he's tucking abductees into Soviet-style "black sites." Freedom is as freedom does, people. Stop citing freedom while depriving us of it as hard and fast as you can.)))

"For more than 15 years, the international community has conducted a massive program to assemble the most accurate scientific assessment on global warming. Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, have produced the most elaborate, well-organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind and have reached a consensus as strong as it ever gets in science.

(((Yeah, sure, sure, but those scientists are merely "the reality based community.")))

"As Bill McKibben points out, (((I hope it makes Bill McKibben feel a little better to get name-checked here; I can still remember the C-SPAN coverage of Bill being led out of the Capitol in handcuffs))) there is no longer any credible basis to doubt that the Earth's atmosphere is warming because of human activities. There is no longer any credible basis to doubt that we face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming.

"Scientists around the world are sounding a clear and urgent warning. Global warming is real, it is already under way and the consequences are totally unacceptable." (((I wonder how this speech would have gone over at the court of King Canute. "The tide's coming in. Huh. Boys, go write "totally unacceptable" on that big wave with this stick.)))

"Why is this happening? (((Because we've been morons, and now we've got it coming.))) Because the relationship between humankind and the Earth has been utterly transformed.

"To begin with, we have quadrupled the population of our planet in the past hundred years. And secondly, the power of the technologies now at our disposal vastly magnifies the impact each individual can have on the natural world. Multiply that by six and a half billion people, and then stir into that toxic mixture a mind-set and an attitude that say it's OK to ignore scientific evidence   that we don't have to take responsibility for the future consequences of present actions   and you get this violent and destructive collision between our civilization and the Earth. "There are those who say that we can't solve this problem   that it's too big or too complicated or beyond the capacity of political systems to grasp."

(((Yeah, the collapse of civilization is the New Black.)))

"To those who say this problem is too difficult, I say that we have accepted and met such challenges in the past. (((Uh, not really, Al. Nobody ever melted the North Pole before.))) We declared our liberty, and then won it. We designed a country that respected and safeguarded the freedom of individuals. We abolished slavery. We gave women the right to vote. We took on Jim Crow and segregation. We cured fearsome diseases, landed on the moon, won two wars simultaneously   in the Pacific and in Europe. We brought down communism, we defeated apartheid. We have even solved a global environmental crisis before: the hole in the stratospheric ozone layer. (((Americans didn't solve any ozone problem single-handed. He's conflating America and the rest of the world here. He should add to our list of accomplishments that we invented internal-combustion vehicles and spewed enough effluent to destabilize the whole atmosphere. "What's good for General Motors is good for America." Now there's a political accomplishment.)))

((In the meantime, you can enjoy the spectacle of Lee Raymond of Exxon scolding his supine clientele in the Republican Congress. That's today's American power elite hard at work there.))) Link:

"So there should be no doubt that we can solve this crisis too. We must seize the opportunities presented by renewable energy, by conservation and efficiency, by some of the harder but exceedingly important challenges such as carbon capture and sequestration. The technologies to solve the global-warming problem exist, if we have the determination and wisdom to use them. But there is no time to wait.

"In the 1930s, Winston Churchill also wrote of those leaders who refused to acknowledge the clear and present danger: 'They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.' (((I'd like to warn Churchill admirers that, once he'd slogged to the far end of that slough of blood, tears, toil and sweat, British voters threw him out of office immediately.)))

"With Hurricane Katrina, the melting of the Arctic ice cap and careless ecological mayhem, we, too, are entering a period of consequences. This is a moral moment. (((Yep, it's a moral moment likely to last a couple of hundred years. After all, that's how long it took us to get here.))) This is not ultimately about any scientific debate or political dialogue. Ultimately it is about who we are as human beings. It is about our capacity to transcend our own limitations. (((It's also about our capacity to endure all kinds of new limitations being thrust upon us by our ignoramus willingness to breathe our own trash, like, for instance, wrecked major cities and our shocking loss of an ice-cap.)))

"The men and women honored as warriors and heroes have risen to this new occasion. On the surface, they share little in common: scientists, ministers, students, politicians, activists, lawyers, celebrities, inventors, world leaders. But each of them recognized the threat that climate change poses to the planet   and responded by taking immediate action to stop it. Their stories should inspire and encourage us to see with our hearts, as well as our heads, the unprecedented response that is now called for. (((Al is referring to Salon's list of climate-change heavies, who are some very nice people, although none of them show much conspicuous talent for governance.)))

"As these heroes demonstrate, we have everything we need to face this urgent challenge. All it takes is

political will. And in our democracy, political will is a renewable resource."

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