Floods, tornadoes & social revolution
Published Jun 1, 2011 4:34 PM
Whether it’s precipitation driven by strong storms or the lack of rain,
the weather has been changing — sometimes drastically. It used to be that
weather was one of those things you couldn’t change. You just had to
accept what came and make the best of it.
But it turns out that we actually were changing it. We just didn’t know.
Now we do. Despite what the energy corporations and their lying think tanks
have been feeding the public, there is no dispute among real scientists.
The last couple of centuries of burning coal, oil and natural gas — the
so-called fossil fuels — have surrounded the earth with a blanket of
heat-trapping carbon dioxide. This in turn has warmed the oceans and the land
masses, meaning more moisture is sucked up into the clouds creating heavier
precipitation and stronger winds.
We can’t ignore the results. Much of the world has recently become a much
more dangerous place to live. We hear fatalistically reported news about
terrible droughts in parts of Africa and torrential rains in South America. But
now that deadly flooding and tornadoes are hitting the Midwest and the South,
wouldn’t you expect there to be a sense of urgency in government and the
The Union of Concerned Scientists on May 19 held a telephone press conference
from its offices in Washington, D.C., soon after the Mississippi River reached
its highest flood levels ever recorded.
A panel of scientists discussed the connection between extreme weather events
and global warming. Reuters reported: “Heavy rains, deep snowfalls,
monster floods and killing droughts are signs of a ‘new normal’ of
extreme U.S. weather events fueled by climate change, scientists and government
planners said. ‘It’s a new normal and I really do think that global
weirding is the best way to describe what we’re seeing,’ climate
scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told reporters. ... Hayhoe,
other scientists, civic planners and a manager at the giant Swiss Re
reinsurance firm all cited human-caused climate change as a factor pushing this
shift toward more extreme weather.”
Reuters is a British news service. Why wasn’t this reported by the
Associated Press and the powerful U.S. networks?
Weather & ‘security’
Alabama was hit by a wave of tornadoes in April that together killed 243
people. Those were followed on May 22 by the deadliest single tornado to hit
the U.S. in 65 years, which killed 140 people in Joplin, Mo. — with 100
more still missing.
By May 28, this year had 519 confirmed fatalities from tornadoes —
already matching the previous record — and there’s still a month to
go in tornado season.
Scientists are cautiously saying that global warming causes more tornadoes.
While the number of tornadoes reported has been increasing, more accurate
reporting of these storms could have contributed to that. But better records
have long been kept of actual tornado deaths, and these are definitely on the
If 519 people had died in plane crashes this year, wouldn’t there be a
huge investigation? Wouldn’t the responsible authorities be told to take
immediate action to protect the flying public? And what about that
well-financed agency, the Department of Homeland Security? Why does it seem to
do nothing except manufacture “conspiracies” so it can railroad
people to jail and call that a victory over “terrorism”? No
The lack of any meaningful response to global warming, despite its costs
— and they are only beginning — creates an atmosphere of pessimism
and leaves the field open to the most irrational “explanations” of
where we are headed.
When capitalism first came on the scene as a social system, combatting the
medieval views of the feudal nobility and the church, it championed science as
against mysticism and fatalism. It nurtured optimism that the ability of humans
to unravel the mysteries of nature would bring us as a species to a much better
place, able to end famine and disease, and develop our productive skills so
that all could enjoy a comfortable life. The rigors and hardships suffered by
the majority of producers would become a thing of the past.
Science & social change
Those days are long gone. The forces of production have developed exponentially
under capitalism — but wildly, driven by the market and the lust for ever
greater profits. The class divide has widened enormously. The application of
scientific thinking to social questions has been sabotaged by the urgent need
of the big corporations and banks to make their bundle and the rest of society
Look at how long it took the medical industry to demand that smoking be
discouraged. It took the intervention of the big insurance companies, which
didn’t want to pay for all the illness and deaths caused by smoking, to
get laws that would encourage a healthier life style. And what it will take to
move to a sustainable economic system is immeasurably more demanding than
merely banning smoking.
Is it a stretch to mention the “rapture” craze in this analysis of
the results of global warming? With climate scientists much maligned,
charlatans who quote scripture that the end of the world is nigh are free to
hoodwink the gullible. And people are gullible because the knowledge they need
to understand their world is hard to get through the haze of obfuscating,
reactionary talk shows and a profitable mass culture that promotes the
“paranormal,” scaring people half to death with sensational and
The salvation of the world and its peoples lies in social change that will
clear away all the obstructions to rational use and development of our natural
and human-made resources. This means taking ownership and control away from the
class of super-rich who presently make the rules and decisions. They always
have a narrow goal: to promote their interests as a highly privileged class
that derives its power from its ownership of capital. Private ownership must be
overthrown and social ownership instituted. That’s the only real meaning
of socialism, and it requires the revolutionary reconstitution of society.
There is a convergence of interest between the working class, which
historically has had to stand up to capital just to survive, and all those
intermediate strata who are deeply concerned about the freight train of climate
change bearing down on us. All progressive struggles are lifted once the
workers are in motion. What once seemed impossible becomes possible at last.
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