Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hedges: The Great Flood

It's said there have been about 3,000 religions in the history of mankind and a gutload of them have some scripture based on some Great Flood event. Is America experiencing its own Biblical-grade cataclysm?

Chris Hedges sees eerie parallels between environmental impacts ravaging the United States and the demise of civilizations in ages past.

Civilizations over the past 6,000 years have unfailingly squandered their futures through acts of colossal stupidity and hubris. We are probably not an exception. The physical ruins of these empires, including the Mesopotamian, Roman, Mayan and Indus, litter the earth. They elevated, during acute distress, inept and corrupt leaders who channeled anger, fear and dwindling resources into self-defeating wars and vast building projects. The ruling oligarchs, driven by greed and hedonism, retreated into privileged compounds—the Forbidden City, Versailles—and hoarded wealth as their populations endured mounting misery and poverty. The worse it got, the more the people lied to themselves and the more they wanted to be lied to. Reality was too painful to confront. They retreated into what anthropologists call “crisis cults,” which promised the return of the lost world through magical beliefs.

“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present,” philosopher and psychologist William James wrote, “and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose.”

We are entering this final phase of civilization, one in which we are slashing the budgets of the very agencies that are vital to prepare for the devastation ahead—the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration dealing with climate change. Hurricane after hurricane, monster storm after monster storm, flood after flood, wildfire after wildfire, drought after drought will gradually cripple the empire, draining its wealth and resources and creating swathes of territory defined by lawlessness and squalor.

The Great Betrayal

A society in crisis flees to the reassuring embrace of con artists and charlatans. Critics who ring alarm bells are condemned as pessimists who offer no “hope,” the drug that keeps a doomed population passive. The current administration—which removed Barack Obama’s Climate Action Planfrom the White House website as soon as Donald Trump took office—and the Republican Party are filled with happy climate deniers. They have adopted a response to climate change similar to that of the Virginia Legislature: ban discussion of climate change and replace the term with the less ominous “recurrent flooding.” This denial of reality—one also employed by those who assure us we can adapt—is driven by fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries that along with the rich and corporations fund the political campaigns of elected officials. They fear that a rational, effective response to climate change will impede profits. Our corporate media, dependent on advertising dollars, contributes to the conspiracy of silence. It ignores the patterns and effects of climate change, focusing instead on feel-good stories about heroic rescues or dramatic coverage of flooded city centers and storm refugee caravans fleeing up the coast of Florida.

But as [Rolling Stone enviro-scribe Jeff] Goodell points out, “In today’s political climate, open discussion of the security risks of climate change is viewed as practically treasonous.” ...“People will notice higher tides that roll in more and more frequently. Water will pool longer in streets and parking lots. Trees will turn brown and die as they suck up salt water.” We will retreat to higher ground, cover our roofs with solar panels, finally stop using plastic and go vegan, but it will be too late. As Goodell writes, “even in rich neighborhoods, abandoned houses will linger like ghosts, filling with feral cats and other refugees looking for their own higher ground.”

The water will continue to rise. “It will have a metallic sheen and will smell bad,” Goodell writes. “Kids will get strange rashes and fevers. More people will leave [low areas]. Seawalls will crumble. In a few decades, low-lying neighborhoods will be knee-deep. Wooden houses will collapse into a sea of soda bottles, laundry detergent jugs, and plastic toothbrushes. Human bones, floated out of caskets, will be a common sight. Treasure hunters will kayak in, using small robotic submersibles to search for coins and jewelry. Modern office buildings and condo towers will lean as salt water corrodes the concrete foundations and eats away at the structural beams. Fish will school in the classrooms. Oysters will grow on submerged light poles. Religious leaders will blame sinners for the drowning of the city.”

The damage suffered by Houston, Tampa and Miami is not an anomaly. It is the beginning of the end. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.


Trailblazer said...

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

No such luck Squire..

Whilst we still allow the development of land on oceanfront ( which is a environmental problem within itself) eventually taxpayer will pick up the tab for poor planning particularly after a disaster.

Local Governments just love the tax base of waterfront development as the real estate industry promotes it ( if you can call it an industry )

When problems arise then the profiteers fob off the rescue, financial bailouts and reconstruction to the taxpayer.

Is not free enterprise wonderful?


Lorne said...

A very grim but I suspect also very accurate vision of what awaits us, Mound. Tonight when I was watching the news, the U.S. network did its usual coverage of 'weather porn,' while Global National went into much more detail about consequences both in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Especially impressive was its discussion of the future for states like Florida, and the flooding of many cities which presage a waterlogged future. In other words, all of that property will be of no value. This is something you will never see on American TV, I suspect.

The Mound of Sound said...

I recall an encounter five or six years ago when I met two professors from South Carolina, the parents of the groom. They were true Southern gentry and a real pleasure to meet. It was their first time to British Columbia or Canada for that matter. At one point they mentioned how different they found our television news coverage and brought up the issue of climate change. The couple said they heard nothing like the Canadian coverage back in the South. It turns out she inherited a true antebellum manor house on one of S. Carolina's barrier islands yet heard not a word about climate change or sea level rise in their local media or among their island neighbours. They seemed troubled that there was no discussion of the subject back at home. Well there sure is now.

Trailblazer said...

Sometimes you have to hit someone on the nose to get their attention!
I also suspect your Southern gentry pay little attention to Public Broadcasting in the USA.
Another case of willful ignorance.


Anonymous said...

Anyong....They are compelled to use the language you mention Mound less the masses become so angry, they revolt around the world. But.....that is coming anyway.