Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I have this bad habit of surfing the Internet in the morning, reading news and economics. Today's depressing information is from Scientific American: global warming may have reached the point of being irreversible. The article talks about the melting ice caps, Amazonian forests dying of drought, the oceans acidifying and the Siberian permafrost melting, releasing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

Just what I want before nine a.m.

I try to figure out the minds of the world's ruling class. The obvious thing to do right now is save the planet. They are living on it, and there is no alternative home nearby. (Stan Robinson's explanation for the terraforming of Mars in his trilogy was: the rich needed a place to flee, when Earth finally collapsed. A brilliant explanation, I thought. But they haven't done the work. Mars, like every other nearby planet, is not habitable.)

Instead, the rich continue to use up the planet's resources and fight any attempt to stop global warming. At the same time, they strip mine public wealth -- schools, highways, everything we own in common -- and the wealth of all other classes, even though doing this makes societies more miserable and unstable. Do they think the things they enjoy -- Fifth Avenue, shopping in Paris, the opera, art museums, big league sports, theater -- will continue to exist in an impoverished world? Maybe they do. The rich in third world countries manage comfortable lives. Though the third world countries sell to first world countries, and third world rich people can vacation in New York and Paris. What if the first world does not exist?

Maybe they think money will save them, when the climate hits the fan. I imagine armed and armored enclaves, where the rich live, protected by their own security forces and served by their own doctors and lawyers and engineers. Outside is a howling wasteland, inhabited -- if at all -- by savages. This is why I liked John Carter. The movie's Mars is our future.

But this is a short term solution. If the climate continues to deteriorate, the enclaves will not last. On Mars in the movie, only two cities remain, one a monstrous predator, the other lovely and refined and doomed to fall without the help of John Carter and the green Martians, the planet's savages.

It's also possible that the rich believe there are no consequences. Nothing they do or refuse to do will harm them.

Or it's possible they don't think. I have compared the rich to great white sharks in the past -- good at what they do, but not among the planet's thinkers.


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