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Bloomberg, Canute, and lapping waters at your feet

4 November 2012 5 comments

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“Frankenstorm” – the media-given nickname for Hurricane Sandy -was named after Frankenstein, the fictitious scientist who attempted to cheat the gods by creating life from lifelessness, and instead created the titular “monster”. Ironically,  we may well have created “Frankenstorm” from our irresponsible polluting of the atmosphere.

Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury raised a point in one of his blogposts on “Tumeke”, regarding the recent devasting storm that devastated the East Coast of the US,

I love how a US election campaign that hasn’t mentioned global warming once is being impacted by a climate change Frankenstorm. Seeing as man made pollution is causing the planet to heat (a fact the right wing blogosphere in this country refuse to accept) these types of Frankenstorms will become more frequent and more powerful.

We should be introducing this storm as ‘welcome to your new winter America’.”

Source: Climate Change storm stomps on US election #Schadenfreude

Someone must have been paying attention – or arrived at the same conclusion – because a day later, the Mayor of New York, right-wing Republican/Independent billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, seems to have experienced a road-to-Damascus revelation,

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As Bloomberg said,

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be—given this week’s devastation—should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. “

Indeed.

I guess it was inevitable. Eventually the effects of climate change would begin to impact on the coastal areas of the United States –  one of  the worst serial polluters on this planet.

Other nations – also guilty of dumping vast quantities of pollutants into the atmosphere – will also not escape the consequences of air pollution that has already begun to affect our climate.

In the 1970s, the world learnt that emitting    CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons ) into the atmosophere was slowly destroying the ozone layer. This delicate layer of  O3 is all that stands between us, and the full-on deadly solar UV radiation that would sterilise the surface of our  planet.

See: The Ozone Hole – CFCs

And we were slowly wrecking it with a pollutant commonly found in refrigerators, aerosol cans, etc.

Thankfully, we realised the gravity of the crisis in the nick of time and began the phasing out of CFCs (except in certain situations) has meant that the Ozone Hole is slowly shrinking.

See: The Ozone Hole – 2012 Antarctic Ozone Hole Second Smallest in 20 Years

Possibly this was made possible because corporate muscle-flexing by  the fossil-fuel industry (oil companies, coal mining, etc) and agricultural interests profits were not affected by the phasing out of CFCs. And because a direct correlation could be quickly shown between CFCs and Ozone depletion.

To our sorrow – especially those on the East Coast of the USA – we have been slower to accept a similar correlation between increasing levels of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide and the gradual increase in global temperatures.

Perhaps it’s because of the glacial slowness of  this increase in temperature (measured in fractions of a degree) – like the slow progress of continental drift – coupled with a propaganda campaign financed by vested corporate interests (that I believe verge on criminal behaviour), that made clarity and decision-making unnecessarily cumbersome.

It has taken time. Whilst the science pointed steadily at climate change being an undeniable reality, politicians (especially the right wing variety) were less willing to commit, for fear of losing votes. And campaign donations.

I suspect that Hurricane Sandy may be the “wake up” call that the Human Race desperately needed.

Climate change – like the earlier Ozone Hole crisis – is a global problem. It will affect every nation on this planet; powerful or powerless; big or small; wealthy or poverty-stricken.

None will be exempt.

And ironically, it will be highly developed nations such as the United States that will be worst affected as the severity of storms increase and weather patterns become more extreme. The complex infra-structure of Developed Nations will be more vulnerable to the onslaught of extreme weather.

Mayor Bloomberg belatedly understands this reality. His city has been brought to it’s knees – humbled by forces of nature that are beyond our control.

Other coastal cities in the US, China, Japan, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere will be facing similar fates. It is only a matter of time.

Mayor Bloomberg has said,

When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America.”

Nothing focuses the mind like a laser when we, and our children,  are threatened by an external force.

In this case, that external force was “Frankenstorm Sandy”.

We can start by throwing out National, which has totally abrogated it’s responsibilities to curtail greenhouse gas emissions (and other pollutants), in the name of “economic growth”. (And failed dismally at both.)

See previous blogpost: ETS – National continues to fart around

See previous blogpost: National ditches environmental policies

Governments around the world no longer have a choice in this matter. It is no longer a “Game of Politics”, this is a matter which will affect us all. There is no place to escape to; no place to hide; no sanctuary for any of us.

Consider, if you will, that being an island nation, nearly all our major cities and towns are coastal. We are no less vulnerable to extreme storms than our American cuzzies and right about now I would not be buying any beach-front properties.

There is no escaping the consequences of what we have wrought.

Now we have to focus our human ingenuity at undoing what we have wrought.

We have run out of options and time.

Now’s good.

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King Canute of Bosham (Born circa AD 994 – died 12th November 1035)

Legend of the waves

King Canute is best remembered for the story of how he commanded the waves to go back in Bosham. According to oral tradition, he grew tired of flattery by the locals. “You are the greatest man that ever lived,” one would say. “O king, there can never be another as mighty as you,” another would say. “Great Canute, you are the monarch of all, nothing in this world would dare to disobey you.” When one such flatterer said the king could command the obedience of the sea, the King proved him wrong by practical demonstration on the foreshore.

“Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey”.

So spoke the King, seated on his throne with the waves lapping around his feet. “Go back, sea!” he commanded time and again, but the tide continued as expected. Canute put it to his courtiers that the sea was not obeying him and insisted they stay there until they admitted it.

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