July 11, 2022 Wayne Northey

Tomgram Engelhardt, Life in Hell (Literally!)

Extreme Life: Or World War III (IV and V), Climate-Style

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image above: thedailybeast.com

WN: In the micro, I have a close relative who still gives me books that deny outright ACD–Anthropogenic Climate Disruption. His brother, a convert, is equally duped, but spares me the gift-giving. (Gift in German means poison. Garbage is my preferred “translation” in this context.)

On the macro, ACD is slowly poisoning the entire planet . . . Humanity’s Endgültige Gift (Final Gift/poison capsule) is destined to turn everything God originally called “good,” into one massive cesspool of poisoned land, sea, and air–and at a rate of speed already overtaking my three score years and ten and three . . .

We cry out: Lord, have mercy.

excerpts:

In recent weeks, a newly emboldened right-wing Supreme Court struck down a more than century-old New York law restricting the carrying of concealed weapons and a nearly 50-year-old precedent on abortion.  Meanwhile, the January 6th Committee has been laying out in graphic televised detail how our last president tried to subvert the 2020 election.  Inflation, of course, continues to run riot; gas prices have soared to record levels; the brutal war in Ukraine proceeds neverendingly; the Biden administration looks increasingly hapless; and the president himself ever older and less on target. In sum, our world seems to be in headline-making disorder, while our fate here in this country — thank you, (in)justices Alito and Thomas, not to speak of The Donald and crew! — remains remarkably up for grabs by the worst of us all.

There’s so much heat, in other words, that we seem endlessly in the fires of this political moment. It’s hardly surprisingly then if, talking about heat, by far the most significant story of our time, undoubtedly of all time, is barely on our radar screens.  I mean, let’s get one thing straight, if you hadn’t quite noticed: you and I are already on a different planet.  And no, I’m not thinking about being in a new cold war, or Donald Trump and the last presidential election, or Ron DeSantis and the next one, or even the latest round of the never-ending Covid-19 pandemic.

I’m talking about being on a planet already overheating not just politically or militarily, but in the most literal way possible. I’m talking about climate change, of course. And don’t think I’m just focused on the future over-heating of this planet either. What I have in mind is this very palpable present. I’m talking about a country, the United States, that, with heat domes over significant parts of it recently, has been breaking seasonal heat records like mad. Phoenix (114), Tucson (111), El Paso (107), and Las Vegas (104) all set June heat records, as did Birmingham, Chicago, Little Rock, Jackson, Memphis, Shreveport, and Nashville. That’s just to start down an ever-lengthening, ever more broiling list, even as the Supreme Court just acted to ensure that ever more greenhouse gas emissions would continue to pour into our atmosphere.

Only recently, itself undoubtedly a first, the National Weather Service Prediction Center warned 100 million Americans — and that’s not a misprint — from the Gulf coast to the Great Lakes and east to the Carolinas that they should stay indoors due to a dangerous heat wave. And, lest you think I’m ignoring the Southwest and West, let me add that those regions are now in the third year of a megadrought unlike any in at least 1,200 years. Consider, for instance, the two record-setting mega-fires in New Mexico that just won’t stop burning two months later (with the main Western fire season still ahead). And don’t forget those record 500-year-floods in Yellowstone National Park similarly connected to this overheated season, sudden deluges of rain, and the melting of mountain snow.

And yes, I’m thinking about an Arctic that’s heating (and melting) seven times faster than the rest of the planet. I’m thinking about a China that’s grappling with record heat waves and devastating flooding. I’m thinking about a Japan experiencing its worst heat wave ever. I’m thinking about a spring heat wave in India that produced its warmest March since records were first kept there; broiled much of South Asia; and, according to scientists, is now 30 times more likely to recur than once would have been true. And don’t forget the extreme rainfall and record floods in that region either.

I’m also thinking about a scorched Horn of Africa that’s living (or dying) through a devastating drought. I’m thinking about a provincial capital in southeastern Iran where the temperature recently hit a record 126 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m thinking about heat waves in southern Europe that arrived historically early — in the case of Spain, record-breakingly so.

And that’s just to start down a longer list. And mind you, what I’ve been describing here is a nightmare of heat waves and other forms of extreme weather that’s just beginning and that, barring surprises, will only grow ever more severe in the decades to come. We’re talking about parts of this planet potentially becoming uninhabitable and undoubtedly turning hundreds of millions, possibly a billion or more of us into climate refugees on the road to… well, hell.

The Greatest Disaster in Human History?

Excuse me a moment, but I’d like to scream!

Honestly, don’t expect climate change to be much of an issue, if any at all, in the November election. And the six conservative justices of the Supreme Court, not going anywhere soon, are already working hard to ensure that no future American government will be capable of taking significant action to mitigate the effects of global warming.

In short, I’m talking about a planet I didn’t even expect to be living on and one I certainly don’t want to hand on to my children and grandchildren. What in the world did they do to deserve this?

And it couldn’t be stranger that we just don’t get it. Yes, there are lots of scientists and a certain number of young people who have fully grasped the problem and are trying their best to rise to meet it. But this country as a whole (no less the world), not a chance in… yes, I might as well say it yet again… hell.

Otherwise, we would be mobilizing now to deal with global warming the same way President Franklin Roosevelt mobilized us for World War II. For the truth is that, if we don’t move so much faster than we are now, the climate, the weather, could indeed prove to be our World War III (and IV and V). If so, it will put the Russian president to shame. It will be, to use Kurt Vonnegut’s old phrase for World War II, a “slaughterhouse” of a new sort. And yet, logical as it might seem, such a mobilization doesn’t yet appear to be faintly in the cards and, worse still, if American politics follows its present course, it might not be in any imaginable future.

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