An Open Letter To President Obama: The Time On The Doomsday Clock Is Five Minutes To Midnight

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"An Open Letter To President Obama: The Time On The Doomsday Clock Is Five Minutes To Midnight"

The Bulletin‘s Science and Security Board announces its 2013 decision to keep in place the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock: It will remain at five minutes to midnight. In this open letter to US President Barack Obama, the Board presents its views on the key issues that affected its decision and provides the president with recommendations to consider in 2013 and throughout his second term.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock “conveys how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction–the figurative midnight–and monitors the means humankind could use to obliterate itself.”  These means include “nuclear weapons, but they also encompass climate-changing technologies and new developments in the life sciences that could inflict irrevocable harm.”

This year, the Bulletin‘s Science and Security Board, “in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates,” left the clock at 5 minutes to midnight. The Board also took the unusual step of releasing a powerful open letter to President Obama. I’ll excerpt the climate change parts of that letter below:

Dear President Obama,

2012 was a year in which the problems of the world pressed forward, but too many of its citizens stood back. In the US elections the focus was “the economy, stupid,” with barely a word about the severe long-term trends that threaten the population’s well-being to a far greater extent: climate change, the continuing menace of nuclear oblivion, and the vulnerabilities of the world’s energy sources. 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States, marked by devastating drought and brutal storms. These extreme events are exactly what climate models predict for an atmosphere overburdened with greenhouse gases….

The stasis of 2012 convinces us, the Science and Security Board, to keep the hands of the Doomsday Clock in place.

Mr. President, we see 2013 as a year for vision and engagement. We know that decisive action can make the world safer. Humanity awaits the US leadership that can secure a future free of nuclear weapons. US action can induce the world’s nations to negotiate international agreements to avert the worst calamities of climate change. We turn to you, Mr. President, to lead us toward a safer world and to help us turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock.

It remains five minutes to midnight….

Climate change. Human activities are now the dominant cause of global climate change. Emissions of heat-trapping gases continued to climb in 2012, with atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide — the most important greenhouse gas affected by human activities — reaching levels higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years. 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. Arctic sea ice continued to rapidly diminish in extent, reaching a record low this past year that fell under the previous low by an area the size of Texas. Glaciers are retreating, and the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass. Extreme weather events, such as last year’s Superstorm Sandy and Typhoon Bopha, now strike in an environment altered by climate change, with higher sea surface temperatures and more water vapor in the atmosphere to fuel and sustain their destructive power.

But 2012 also provided further evidence of the viability of renewable sources of energy and more efficient ways of powering the global economy, pointing toward an alternative to the high-carbon development model. Wind and solar power, for example, expanded at rates greatly exceeding what energy agencies forecasted earlier this decade. Owing to supportive policies, power generation from these sources expanded nearly fourfold over the past five years in the United States, and even more so in other countries, including Germany and China, where there they enjoyed stronger support. The new US automobile fuel economy standard was another welcome development, promising nearly a doubling of vehicle efficiency by 2025.

This trend, while encouraging, is by no means evidence that the climate challenge has been met. In fact, the growth in low-carbon energy sources is dwarfed by the continued expansion of fossil fuels like coal — as was exemplified last year by the explosive development of unconventional fossil resources, such as tar sands, oil shale, and shale gas. With life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions that are even worse than their conventional counterparts, these unconventional fossil resources threaten to crowd out investment in renewables and to entrench a long-term dependency on carbon-intensive energy supplies.

Avoiding this scenario will require your administration to considerably speed the process of reforming the patchwork of federal subsidies, taxes, and other incentives and disincentives that distort energy markets. We look forward to substantial progress toward rational energy markets in 2013, including the pricing of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the economy.

2012 saw the arrival of an apparently abundant domestic natural gas resource, which could be an important contributor to a more environmentally sound energy future. We call on your administration to see that commercialization of this resource is pursued in ways that mitigate its environmental impacts, including its climate change impacts. Specifically, we urge you to create strong regulations for gas developers to minimize methane leakage and safeguard water resources, and for power-plant developers to incorporate carbon dioxide capture and storage.

Mr. President, you have taken some steps to help nudge the country along a more rational energy path. You kept alive the incentives for wind and other renewable power, and you strengthened vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. These are important steps, but without a concerted effort to launch a comprehensive and ambitious response to the climate challenge in 2013, we face diminishing prospects for averting the worst and most costly effects of a disrupted climate.

Since your re-election, you have noted with concern that the Earth is warming and the Arctic ice cap is melting even faster than scientists had predicted, while extraordinary weather events — from storms to droughts — are taking their toll in the United States and around the world. You also stressed that we have an obligation to future generations to do something about climate change, and you promised that this would be a priority of your administration.

In September 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its fifth assessment of climate science, which will authoritatively document the changing climate. We call on you to commit your administration to firmly accept the panel’s scientific findings, urgently integrate these findings into national policy, and confidently face those who irresponsibly argue that climate change science is not relevant….

Next steps. Mr. President, with your second inauguration one week away, we have as much hope for your presidency as we did in 2010, when we moved back the hands of the Doomsday Clock after your first year in office. You have an extraordinary capacity to articulate the global desire for peace and security, and you have the tools to deliver tangible progress. Your Prague speech on nuclear disarmament and your efforts at Copenhagen to coordinate world leaders to slow the onset of climate change are high water marks in their respective basins of activity. We call on you to reinvigorate these initiatives. Specifically:

….

  • Prioritize climate change at a level that recognizes the gravity of the climate threat. You have the ability to educate and inspire the United States to launch an ambitious response, confront entrenched interests that have forestalled action, and, if Congressional dysfunction prevents legislative action, you are able to use your executive powers to achieve progress on a rational energy and climate strategy for the nation.
  • Partner with other world leaders to forge the comprehensive global response that the climate threat demands, based on equity and cooperation across countries. A global solution will only be within reach if the United States commits to doing its fair share by investing at home and globally to curb greenhouse gas emissions, while building resilience in the face of the climate disruption that is now unavoidable.
  • Reform the patchwork of federal subsidies, taxes, and other incentives and disincentives so as to encourage large reductions in US greenhouse gas emissions.

By Robert Socolow, Thomas Rosenbaum, Lawrence J. Korb, Lynn Eden, Rod Ewing, Alexander Glaser, James E. Hansen, Sivan Kartha, Edward “Rocky” Kolb , Lawrence M. Krauss, Leon Lederman, Ramamurti Rajaraman, M. V. Ramana, Robert Rosner, Jennifer Sims, Richard C. J. Somerville, And Elizabeth J. Wilson

    Hear! Hear!

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    76 Responses to An Open Letter To President Obama: The Time On The Doomsday Clock Is Five Minutes To Midnight

    1. Repeating Joe’s finale “Hear, hear.” Still there is so much more that needs to be done and so little time in which to do it. Some of this can be done, it would seem, by executive order.

      According to an online story from KQED’s science site, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commmission (FERC) is refusing to consider climate change in any way when reviewing application for the continued operation of hydroelectric facilities: “… FERC’s decision to depend only on historic weather and water records doesn’t make sense anymore, especially for licenses that won’t expire for decades.”

      Link: http://science.kqed.org/quest/audio/climate-threat-to-dams-overlooked-by-regulators/

      Note that KQED used to have a climate blog, but it is now folded into their “Science” site, but with the same staff. At least the stories continue.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        It’s official- we’re well and truly FERC-ed!

      • Joan Savage says:

        The Council on Environmental Quality, under the Office of the President of the United States, issued a “DRAFT NEPA GUIDANCE ON CONSIDERATION OF THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS” on February 18, 2010.

        We should demand that the NEPA guidance be implemented and enforced on all anticipated federal expenditures without exception, including FERC.

    2. Nan says:

      Go to NPR’s “Dear Mr. President” site to write your own thoughts to Obama. NPR will include the responses during their Inauguration Day news coverage.
      http://www.capradio.org/news/npr/story?storyid=168977283

    3. “2012 saw the arrival of an apparently abundant domestic natural gas resource, which could be an important contributor to a more environmentally sound energy future.”

      Bull.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        As you say. That one sentence renders the entire report null and void, and the authors suspect, to my mind at least. Fracked gas is worse from a greenhouse perspective, than coal. Don’t these scientists keep up with the research? And fracking is a pollution nightmare. How ‘environmentally sound’! The problem is that whistle-blowing ( so savagely attacked by Obama after he had promised to protect them)or rocking the various institutional boats is still a career-threatening move. Better to just go along with the Groupthink, and, whatever you do, don’t alarm the proles!

        • Superman1 says:

          Mulga,

          The way climate change is being addressed by the media, the government, and all the other stakeholders makes the Keystone Cops look like a precision drill team. The game is over! All we’re doing now is running out the clock.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            The only problem is that the Kops were a precision team of stunt-men, otherwise all those crashes would have killed them all. These blighters are amateur, wannabe ‘Kops’.The ‘Keystone’ word has come back to haunt us, has it not?

    4. Sasparilla says:

      I agree with Wesley and Joe – Hear! Hear!

      As pointed out by others we need a whole lot more than just these items, but just doing this would be a sea change.

      That said, while these are all common sense suggestions and should be easy to move forward on in a world of common sense – in our U.S. reality here in 2013 – other than the executive only actions (where the steering wheel really is in President Obama’s hands – and he’s actively steered away from climate change only actions since taking office) – none of these things has a chance of occurring in the House and Senate. Stating them publicly is important, however, in and of itself.

      • fj says:

        An extreme sense of urgency in The Oval Office would move mountains.

        It is a mistake to tbink otherwise.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Exactly! If Obama really cared about the world that his children and all others will be forced to live in, he would move Heaven and Earth, but he steadfastly refuses. Keystone will, I suspect, finally drive the message home.

          • Superman1 says:

            Mulga,

            I suspect he does care, but realizes there’s little we the citizenry can do to turn the tide. He probably figures it’s too late, and there’s no reason to create the chaos the truth would bring.

            • Merrelyn Emery says:

              The truth is that we do not know what would happen if he mobilized the whole country to action. My bet is that they would respond magnificently and make a huge difference. Inaction will lead to chaos you cannot imagine, ME

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

              Super, I’m with Merrelyn. At least we would go down swingin’, as they say. Sitting still and waiting to be fried is demeaning and unseemly. They really fear humanity acting collaboratively because it refutes all the neo-liberal bilge that competition is the supreme expression of humanity, when, in fact, taken to the illogical extreme, it is an explicit expression of fear, hate and contempt for others.

            • Superman1 says:

              Mulga,

              So, he does absolutely zero on this problem for five years, including not even speaking about it, and now you think he will move Heaven and Earth. Roughly the same chance I have to win the lottery.

            • Merrelyn Emery says:

              Super, you cannot predict human behaviour from past action. Pople change their minds, display will, make decisions according to context etc, ME

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

              Super- I certainly do not expect Obama to do anything. I was just agreeing with Merrelyn that ‘if’ Obama acted properly, that great things could be done. I share Merrelyn’s faith in human co-operation. I also share your doubt that Obama is the man for the job. Still, ‘Hope Fiends Spring Eternal’.

          • Superman1 says:

            So, he does absolutely zero on this problem for five years, including not even speaking about it, and now you think he will move Heaven and Earth. Talk about the ultimate Hockey Stick curve!

    5. One really has to wonder what keeps the Obama Administration from acting. I think they’re very concerned about severe resistance from monied climate deniers and their allies–resistance that could be described as a polarizing backlash leading to entrenchment.

      The inability to cope with this crisis reminds me very much of 1860, just before the Civil War. An outrageous moral problem is being perpetuated by certain powerful interests and their ideological conscripts, and the majority who want reform are at a loss as to how to surmount the inertia.

      As there was with slavery, there’s a deeply compelling financial argument to maintain the status quo. Of course that argument is extremely short-sighted, but if they are your dollars, you find them compelling. You can even make a moral argument out of the risk of deep and wide-spread economic dislocation to compete with the other one.

      Once again, it’s the moral battle between property rights and human rights. It’s a battle between the “freedom” to dominate and the freedom from domination.

      • Superman1 says:

        A more ominous explanation, and probably closer to the truth, is that he has been told by the ‘black’ community that we have passed the point of no return. Telling the horrific truth to the nation would do nothing to solve the problem, and would only create unimaginable chaos and anarchy. McPherson may be right after all.

        • Merrelyn Emery says:

          Assuming your intelligence community listens to the best evidence available, they would believe we can still avoid the very worst of it. Your military seems to believe that, ME

          • Belgrave says:

            That’s what the intelligence community say publicly. We’re talking “deep black” here – the guys and their departments & reports that we plebs must never know even exist.

            I guess I’m sounding like the worst type of conspiracy theorist, but it seems to me the most plausible explanation.

            Perhaps Inhofe et al. are actually part of the plot!

    6. fj says:

      Best if he does not wait for the September 2013 IPCC fifth assessment to get moving.

    7. prokaryotes says:

      We are doomed because of the lamestream media, no actions against the orchestrated denial, falsification of data is not punished and basically Oestrich mentality rules our system (on top of greed and ignorance).

      Obama broke his promise of 2012 to make climate change a top priority. If he is not soon doing everything to establish a comprehensive CO2 tax we can consider him an epic fail.

      • paul magnus magnus says:

        … We can also consider humanity an epic fail.

        Could so much depend on one individual! Dam.

      • Superman1 says:

        I’m starting to believe McPherson may be right after all, and that’s why there is silence from the President, the media, and other influential parties. They realize the game is over, we have passed the point of no return, and disseminating the horrific truth would only bring unimaginable chaos and anarchy to the citizenry.

    8. Mike Roddy says:

      There is an important flaw in this letter. They call on the natural gas industry to “mitigate its environmental impacts, including climate impacts”.

      This is impossible. Cement well casings for fracked gas leak methane and toxic fluids, and no technological alternative has been found:

      http://vimeo.com/44367635

      Result: We’re right back where we started if we just switch from coal to gas power plants. The scientists did not do their homework here.

    9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      It is actually five minutes past midnight and time is accelerating. Only heroic action, with unprecedented global co-operation, can turn the hands of the doomsday clock back. Hands up anyone who sees any signs of that?

      • paul magnus magnus says:

        Yep. They are also reticent. They should have advanced the clock by at least a min more to mid night. But we are probably not hearing the chime due to the speed of sound.

        • paul magnus magnus says:

          Or the delay of warming.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Everywhere those who know the truth and should be shouting the alarm and ringing the tocsin are pretending that things are not as dire as they really are. This I cannot understand.

          • Superman1 says:

            Whenever I see a scenario where actions, statements, and responses make no sense superficially, I try to reverse-engineer the problem and generate a strategy/policy/explanation that does makes sense and closes the loop. A more ominous explanation, and probably closer to the truth, is that Obama has been told by the ‘black’ community that we have passed the point of no return. Telling the horrific truth to the nation would do nothing to solve the problem, and would only create unimaginable chaos and anarchy. McPherson may be right after all.

            • John McCormick says:

              Super, the CIA AGW team was recently disbanded by the CIA Director by White House order. Rethugs did not defund it. White House shut it down. You ask, why?

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

              For it (the CIA climate change team) to go underground, perhaps, out of public purview, such as it is.

    10. Steve in Miami says:

      I think the clock is stuck at one second to midnight and the second hand is being held back only by a string that could break at any time.

      We have a jet stream that, because of rising Arctic temperatures, caused the 6th worst drought in history, the historic “summer in March,” the floods in England, the historically hot July of 2012, and of course hurricane Sandy.

      The jet stream could theoretically kill the US breadbasket this year (?) if the 2013 drought turns out to be worst than last year, and if we had summer in March last year, what will we have this year considering the historic melt of Arctic ice?

      And of course don’t forget about increasing methane from permafrost and subsea hydrates in the shallow waters off Siberia.

      But in spite of all of this, they decide to leave the clock at 5 minutes until midnight??

      Maybe I am being too pessimistic?

      • Solar Jim says:

        You left out the falling level of atmospheric oxygen and the collapsing state of forest and plankton ecosystems – the two main oxygen supplies on “spaceship earth.” Below a level of about nineteen percent I understand we do not do so well.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          The oceans are dying, of acidification, stratification, the spread of anoxic dead-zones, the devastation of fish and the rise of jellyfish and the assault by every type of toxic pollution. When they emit vast quantities of toxic gases, the second end-Permian mass extinction (or something even worse) will see us off. That’s the killer, greater even than climate derangement. And we ‘..just go on squabbling as ever’.

      • No, you’re right. It’s all about the ice cap, which drives the jet stream. We are one perturbation away from a bad crop failure. And each year, the risk of that event increases, as does the risk of its magnitude and duration. The methane plumes just increase the odds.

        We’re teetering on a very bad-news positive feedback loop in the Arctic.

        • Obama and his top people, and surely the Pentagon and the CIA, must have this figured out. It amazes and saddens me that Obama can’t gather the top military brass and key scientists around him in the Oval Office and use the bully pulpit to level with us.

            • Steve in Miami says:

              You forgot to add the important part:

              CIA climate-chage unit closes its doors TO THE PUBLIC

              You think that we are the only ones aware of how dire our situation is and the CIA and others in charge are clueless? I don’t think so…

              I would bet my retirement (as if I’ll ever collect it) that there is a super top secret group that is planning and discussing the possible collapse of civillization and the punishment for opening your mouth to the public would be treason or worse. The President is certainly in the know as well. He used to know a LOT about climate change and talked about it all the time. Now he ignores it even though by any measure things have gotten exponentially worse.

            • prokaryotes says:

              Ok. But it would not make sense to be silent on this topic, because inaction means worse outcome. Further the CIA declassified material earlier.

              Basically you can not prepare for this kind of event. In the best case a few breeding pairs survive a few decades longer, somewhere in a shelter. The movie 2012 gives just an illusion of hope.

              The only way is global affords to reduce emissions, nothing else will solve this crisis.

          • Superman1 says:

            Obama may be in the position of the Doctor who has just found out his patient has Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer; he may not have the heart to tell us the truth. That’s the only reason I can see for his not at least speaking hard on the issue; he has two young daughters who will be greatly affected. I suspect the game is over.

            • There’s a fairly strong indication this is not yet the case. I think such a thing would be impossible to contain. It would leak for sure. Though at times I find myself drifting into conspiracy fantasies.

              But I really think (hope?) they’re playing chicken with nature–waiting for the right moment to do the 1950’s sci-fi scene with the brass and the labcoats standing around the Oval Office as the President tells us Climate D-Day has arrived, and here are the emergency decrees we have to implement. Sandy didn’t quite get us there.

            • fj says:

              we could get emissions down to near zero in five years. we still would not be out of the woods but we would be on our way.

            • fj says:

              the scale and manner of societal change is an unknown and we have to believe we can keep this under control but we must make plunge and if obama is .not the one set the stage for this to happen . . .

              but, we.can only hope that.he.is and he will . . .

              it’s a huge responsibility

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

              The only way to save humanity from the economic and ecological disasters is to do away with capitalism and confiscate the kleptos’ trillions in loot, and use it to establish a just global society and for ecological repair. The capitalists, the 0.01% for whose benefit we are destroying the habitability of this planet, know this, and I now firmly believe that their last throw of the dice is to use their control of politics to ensure that the catastrophe occurs and they can, somehow, ‘ride it out’, like The Elect in a pleonectic rapture, while the ‘moochers’, in their billions, succumb.

        • Steve in Miami says:

          You know I hadn’t considered the possibility that they are waiting for the right moment to have a D-day talk with the public but it makes perfect sense.

          It’s the only way they would ever get support for the kind of DRASTIC measures that are now required to get this monster under control (if that is still remotely possible).

          Thanks for giving me some hope for the first time in a LOOOOOONG time.

    11. Paul Klinkman says:

      After a second pass, I’m learning something new about ice sheet collapses.

      Ice sheets such as the Larsen B sheet and the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet tend to suddenly collapse after a few years of enhanced melting on top. The water melting on top seeps down into cracks, where almost all of it eventually freezes. When water freezes it expands, which creates stresses within the ice sheet. The stresses compromise the ice sheet’s basic integrity. The ice sheet pops apart like an ice cube straight from the freezer into fairly warm water will pop and crack from the stress differential, sometimes shattering the ice cube. The Larsen B shelf disintegrated in one month.

      If the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (which is being eaten away from below) should ever disintegrate some month and spill into the open ocean, the world’s oceans would rise maybe 11 feet.

    12. paul magnus magnus says:

      Maybe Obama knows something we don’t know….

      • I wonder about that, too, and I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Conspiracies at that level and on that scale aren’t sustainable. There are too many competing interests and motivations, too many people around the edges.

        But the silence is just weird in light of information that’s coming out of the government itself. The draft National Climate Assessment, the stuff out of NASA and NOAA. And then there’s all the stuff from very credible private organizations.

        You’d think Obama would get out in front of these things to at least put them in context. Should we be worried? Is the government working on anything? I would think he’d either tell us we have a real problem and here’s what we’re going to do, or that we don’t have a problem (at least an imminent one).

        I guess there’s no upside for him to bring it up. It’ll generate too much heat (no pun intended) and undermine his efforts on the things he can actually influence, some of which are provocative enough in their own right to certain constituencies.

        But then that loops me back to thinking he knows something. The Pentagon and the CIA, having access to all kinds of data, must have an assessment. They are good at keeping secrets.

      • Obama may also judge–correctly–that the public isn’t ready for the message. That, of course, is putting off the inevitable and making that inevitable moment much more loaded.

        But I just got done trying to explain the thrust of this thread to my wife. She basically doesn’t want to hear it. It’s too dire and makes her feel helpless. She gets climate change at some level, but just can’t believe it could be all that bad. I upset her. She’s beginning to think I’m a little over the edge.

        I had lunch with a colleague today. Bright guy, MBA, consults about carbon markets. His fallback: hope. Maybe it just won’t play out as badly as it seems it will. Maybe some technological breakthrough will save the day. Maybe some unanticipated negative feedback will short-circuit the ice cap’s collapse. Bottom line, he has two small children and does not want to talk about it. It just makes him feel helpless, like he’s a deficient father.

        • John McCormick says:

          Change, you and I are experiencing the next phase of this damned madness among those of us who get it.

          Talking about what you and I know to our immediate family, particularly our spouse, borders on self-inflicted damage to our relationships.

          My wife tore into me when she overheard my comment to a guest that jeopardized our son’s future. She knows I spend much of my time grappling with the chaos ahead but will not let it become a part of our conversation.

          She gets it but cannot accept the path ahead. I stopped having those discussions, in my home.

          Maybe she is not unlike the President. She thinks about immediate problems that must be resolved while, subconsciously and consciously hoping I am wrong, overstating the problems and hearing I am devoid of optimism.

          • Superman1 says:

            Kubler-Ross defined five stages of grief for those who are dying:

            • Denial and isolation: “This is not happening to me.”

            • Anger: “How dare God do this to me.”

            • Bargaining: “Just let me live to see my son graduate.”

            • Depression: “I can’t bear to face going through this, putting my family through this.”

            • Acceptance: “I’m ready, I don’t want to struggle anymore.”

            I think most of us are still in the first stage about the impact of climate change and what it will do to our planet. We cling to a belief that we can pull out of this, even though there is zero evidence and zero trends that any action that needs to be done is possible. On paper, yes, it may be theoretically possible to avoid the worst, assuming the positive feedback mechanisms are not too far down the road. In reality, given the cooperation required among all the differing countries, there’s no evidence this is possible. Children who are small today will probably not be around to see old age, due to climate problems.

            • Merrelyn Emery says:

              Kubler Ross was forced to admit by additional evidence that there are no definite stages, and experiences while dying are highly variable and culture specific. This theory is not a good guide and should not bcome a self-fulfilling prophesy, ME

          • Solar Jim says:

            Thank you both, and countless others, for trying. The consequences coming at us are very difficult for common conversation when no leadership is apparent. Perhaps people become more depressed at the thought of massive political corruption and inaction than even the dire prospects of “environment.” We apparently would need rapid national social transformation to get any real movement of capability underway.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        What could possibly be more ghastly than what we already know?

      • Superman1 says:

        Whenever I see a situation that does not ‘hang together’, like the official reactions to a problem as serious as climate change, I look for an explanation/scenario that does hang together. A more ominous explanation, and probably closer to the truth, is that Obama has been told by the ‘black’ community that we have passed the point of no return. Telling the horrific truth to the nation would do nothing to solve the problem, and would only create unimaginable chaos and anarchy. McPherson may be right after all.

    13. rollin says:

      How sickeningly sweet, a feel good letter about averting destruction to the leader of a destructive society.
      “We are slaves in the sense that we depend for our daily survival upon an expand-or-expire agro-industrial empire—a crackpot machine—that the specialists cannot comprehend and the managers cannot manage. Which is, furthermore, devouring world resources at an exponential rate. We are, most of us, dependent employees. …Edward Abbey (1927-1989) ”

      My questions are: What kind of world will it be if those that are destroying the world are the ones that “save” the world? Will it even be worth living in.

      • prokaryotes says:

        Thanks for the great “on the point” quote.

      • Solar Jim says:

        There are many references on political economy. One is Bridge at the Edge of the World, by Speth. The forces against change toward justice include entrenched centralized special interests, like investors or the DOD. Both are heavily engaged with (fossil or fissile) “fuels.”