Month 3, Day 5: Armageddon Out Of Here

I read this article about arctic methane releases in the Times of London this evening. I sat down to write in a very disturbed state, and this is what emerged. At the moment I can’t think who I should send it to…so I’ll send it to the Boston Phoenix for the moment. They probably won’t publish it, so I’ll eventually send it elsewhere. If anyone has a suggestion, I’d welcome it.

Have you written your politicians today? Your media?

The news of ever-increasing methane releases from beneath the Arctic seabed is great news for those wishing an end to human civilization. Dominionists eagerly awaiting the End Times are no doubt delighted to learn that (according to a just-published article in the journal Science, and reported in the London Times) the sub-sea permafrost that has kept gigatonnes of CH4 locked in for millennia is now melting. Because methane is 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in trapping heat, this will accelerate the greenhouse effect even further.

Even better news for these folks is that all this methane has not yet been factored into the prediction models of climate scientists. All those silly “worst-case” scenarios presented by Al Gore and the IPCC? Hopelessly optimistic.

As I said, good news for those awaiting Ragnarok or the Armageddon.

Some of us, however, would rather have a good life for our descendants than a climatic Apocalypse, no matter how spectacular.

We would like to see an international effort to deal with the methane release (and other elements of the climate crisis) before it is too late. We would like to see all the nations of the world form a unified response to this common threat, combining our resources, skills and innovations to keep our planet safe for our children and their children and their children’s children after them. We would like to see the United States of America leading this effort, earning the gratitude of generations to come.

With the climate crisis exacerbated by an ignorance crisis, humanity is facing a threat of unimaginable size and severity. Now is not the time to give in to the political posturing of Rapturists eager to meet their Maker in a final conflagration.

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 28: Senate Action? Really?

So I learned that Harry Reid has told Kerry to get a climate bill to him as soon as possible. That’s good news. On the other hand, Harry Reid has not exactly been an inspirational figure recently. A Harry Reid Action Figure would fall down when you made a face at it.

I wrote him a letter. I hope he reads it.

Dear Senator Reid,

I read a recent report in the Washington Post that noted your strong commitment to passing climate-change legislation as rapidly as possible. I’m glad to hear this. Global climate change is the most pressing threat humanity has ever faced, and America needs to assume the lead in this matter.

I wish to make two points to you about this legislation.

First, we need to recognize that the cap-and-trade system is fundamentally flawed, subject to innumerable sorts of market manipulation and evasion of regulation. A stronger mechanism would be a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which would reduce emissions as well as provide incentives for research and development in alternative energy sources.

Second, it is absolutely crucial that you not give in to Republican demands as the climate bill approaches the floor of the Senate. The long prelude to the Health Care bill is an example of what I mean; over and over it seemed that you and the rest of Democratic leadership capitulated, not to an actual Republican threat, but to the threat that a threat might be forthcoming.

When our party’s Senate leader seems timid and conflict-averse, it demoralizes the people in the Party who have worked the hardest to secure us our current majority. We need Senators who are going to stand up for what is right, and a strong climate bill is both right and necessary. Do what you need to do to get coal-state Democrats on board with this bill. Give them some earmarks! Promise them green-job development funds! Twist some arms!

We need a fighter in this struggle; there is no time to lose, and none to waste.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 2, Day 6: The New (AAAAGH!!!) Senator from Massachusetts

Well, I may not have voted for him, but I’m sure as hell one of his constituents, and he’s sure as hell going to be hearing from me. This one goes directly to Scott Brown, but I’m cc’ing John Kerry.

Notice that I used two paragraphs’ worth of material from the letter I sent Hillary Clinton, back on January 13. I’m an environmentalist; I recycle whenever possible.

Dear Senator Brown,

Congratulations on your recent electoral triumph. I hope that you take the responsibilities of your office seriously, and recognize that while you may espouse a “conservative” political philosophy, that does not change the fact that you’re a senator representing one of the most liberal states in the country.

I’ve heard that you refer to yourself as a “Scott Brown Republican,” and that you’ve told the Senate Republican leadership that they should not count on you for a lockstep vote on every issue. Good for you. A lot of your constituents are in the “liberal/progressive” category, and you have a responsibility to them as well as to the people who voted for you.

Here’s a good way to start. Do some genuine research on the issue of global climate change. Contrary to what you may have heard on Sean Hannity’s program, global climate change is real; it’s a real threat, and the evidence is overwhelming that it has been caused by human activity. The fact that it’s snowing heavily in Washington, DC does not mean that the Earth isn’t heating up.

I understand that as a Republican and a conservative, you are interested in maintaining a healthy business sector, and consider it to be key to the continued growth of America’s economy. Oddly, as a liberal progressive, I believe the exact same thing. We differ, I suspect, in that I am interested in the long-term health of our economy (say, over the next two centuries) while you are more focused on the short term (businesses tend to measure success by the financial quarter, a three-month period).

If the worst-case scenarios of climate scientists come to pass, the Earth will no longer be able to support human life, which would surely be disadvantageous for the American business sector. I know, I know. They’re “worst-case” scenarios. But I ask you to consider two factors. First, the fact that when climatologists’ predictions have proven wrong, it’s almost always because they were too optimistic; every credible report on the state of the world’s climate comes out on the “worse than expected” side of the slate. Second, even if the Venusian “worst-case” scenarios don’t come true, the “almost-as-bad” scenarios are almost as bad for our economy and our business sector.

Projections of the sociopolitical effects of climate change include severe disturbances to farming economies caused by erratic weather, increased risk of near-apocalyptic fires in forested areas affected by severe heat, “water wars” triggered by drought and the elimination of glacial melt as a source for important rivers and aquifers, and, of course, the inevitability of millions of climate refugees, many in the world’s poorest nations. Definitely bad for business.

Add to this the increasing likelihood that oceanic acidification will profoundly affect the food chain of much of earth’s life, and the terrifying prospect of gigatons of arctic methane being released into our atmosphere and bringing a greenhouse effect of unimaginable magnitude, and the possibility of a planetary enactment of a Biblical apocalypse becomes disturbingly likely. While some Dominionists may view this as desirable, hoping for the Rapture is not a valid environmental policy.

So, Senator Brown, I hope that you can do some of your own research on this matter, and make a decision to vote rationally — in favor of strong and robust energy and climate-change legislation when it comes to the floor of the Senate. To fail to act in this matter is to leave our grandchildren a horrifying legacy: a planet burning and a population choking on its own waste.

Please, Senator Brown. Do the right thing, not the politically convenient thing.

Thank you,

Warren Senders