We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Last Great Global Warming

Click here to access introduction to the article by Lee R. Kump from Scientific American.

Unfortunately the full article can be accessed by subscription only. Of course the working people who made this article possible should be paid for their work. But if most of the rewards go to some group of investors, then this is a social crime. Under a socially just system, everyone could access this vitally needed article with a minimal amount of expense, and with little inconvenience. 

However, their introduction and the following summary hits the crucial points, and the implications pose a herculean challenge for those of us living today. We simply must meet this challenge to insure a decent survival for those generations that follow us. To do this, we must change the social-economic system of capitalism that otherwise will lead us to extinction. It is no longer only a matter of social justice, it is now a matter of survival for our children and their children, and so on into the future.
  • Global temperature rose five degrees Celsius 56 million years ago in response to a massive injection of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • That intense gas release was only 10 percent of the rate at which heat-trapping greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere today. 
  • The speed of today's rise is more troubling than the absolute magnitude, because adjusting to rapid climate change is very difficult.  
There are times when I fear that the human race has a fatal flaw that will prevent them from meeting this challenge--it is the worship of power and the powerful. Somehow ordinary people have tended historically to believe that the powerful possess power because they are superior human beings. Of course, the powerful have always played into this tendency by proliferating beliefs such as "divine rights" and other ideological supports from religious authorities, with legal systems where they make the laws and appoint the judges, and by indoctrinating its citizens in the belief that the leaders possess knowledge about the complexities of today's world that ordinary people cannot understand

Because most ordinary people are honest, they tend to believe that most other people are like them. They tend not to believe the reality that there are sociopaths among them who have attained power through deceit, criminal acts, and violence.

The present capitalist aristocracies have also made every effort to obscure real knowledge of important issues through their control of every important institution in our societies, the most important of which are education and the media.