quarta-feira, agosto 06, 2008

Anteater / Global Wierding

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Up, Down.

Blah, blah, blah, ... Bang! (see article in previous post Are We Stuck With ‘Blah, Blah, Blah, … Bang’?, Andrew C. Revkin, August 4.)

1. Learning to Speak Climate, Thomas L. Friedman, August 5.
1. Know-Nothing Politics, Paul Krugman, August 7.

Pato, Ciça
I'm not sure ... but the invitation said that it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Learning to Speak Climate, Thomas L. Friedman, August 5.

Ilulissat, Greenland: Sometimes you just wish you were a photographer. I simply do not have the words to describe the awesome majesty of Greenland’s Kangia Glacier, shedding massive icebergs the size of skyscrapers and slowly pushing them down the Ilulissat Fjord until they crash into the ocean off the west coast of Greenland. There, these natural ice sculptures float and bob around the glassy waters near here. You can sail between them in a fishing boat, listening to these white ice monsters crackle and break, heave and sigh, as if they were noisily protesting their fate.

You are entirely alone here amid the giant icebergs, save for the solitary halibut fisherman who floats by. Our Greenlandic boat skipper sidles up to the tiny fishing craft, where my hosts buy a few halibut right out of his nets, slice open the tender cheeks and cut me the freshest halibut sushi I’ve ever tasted. “Greenland fast food,” quips Kim Kielsen, Greenland’s minister of the environment.

We wash it down with Scotch whiskey cooled by a 5,000-year-old ice cube chipped off one of the floating glacier bits. Some countries have vintage whiskey. Some have vintage wine. Greenland has vintage ice.

Alas, though, I do not work for National Geographic. This is the opinion page. And my trip with Denmark’s minister of climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard, to see the effects of climate change on Greenland’s ice sheet leaves me with a very strong opinion: Our kids are going to be so angry with us one day.

We’ve charged their future on our Visa cards. We’ve added so many greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, for our generation’s growth, that our kids are likely going to spend a good part of their adulthood, maybe all of it, just dealing with the climate implications of our profligacy. And now our leaders are telling them the way out is “offshore drilling” for more climate-changing fossil fuels.

Madness. Sheer madness.

Most people assume that the effects of climate change are going to be felt through another big disaster, like Katrina. Not necessarily, says Minik Thorleif Rosing, a top geologist at Denmark’s National History Museum and one of my traveling companions. “Most people will actually feel climate change delivered to them by the postman,” he explains. It will come in the form of higher water bills, because of increased droughts in some areas; higher energy bills, because the use of fossil fuels becomes prohibitive; and higher insurance and mortgage rates, because of much more violently unpredictable weather.

Remember: climate change means “global weirding,” not just global warming.

Greenland is one of the best places to observe the effects of climate change. Because the world’s biggest island has just 55,000 people and no industry, the condition of its huge ice sheet — as well as its temperature, precipitation and winds — is influenced by the global atmospheric and ocean currents that converge here. Whatever happens in China or Brazil gets felt here. And because Greenlanders live close to nature, they are walking barometers of climate change.

That’s how I learned a new language here: “Climate-Speak.”

It’s easy to learn. There are only three phrases. The first is: “Just a few years ago ...” Just a few years ago you could dogsled in winter from Greenland, across a 40-mile ice bank, to Disko Island. But for the past few years, the rising winter temperatures in Greenland have melted that link. Now Disko is cut off. Put away the dogsled.

There has been a 30 percent increase in the melting of the Greenland ice sheet between 1979 and 2007, and in 2007, the melt was 10 percent bigger than in any previous year, said Konrad Steffen, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, which monitors the ice. Greenland is now losing 200 cubic kilometers of ice per year — from melt and ice sliding into the ocean from outlet glaciers along its edges — which far exceeds the volume of all the ice in the European Alps, he added. “Everything is happening faster than anticipated.”

The second phrase is: “I’ve never seen that before...” It rained in December and January in Ilulissat. This is well above the Arctic Circle! It’s not supposed to rain here in winter. Said Steffen: “Twenty years ago, if I had told the people of Ilulissat that it would rain at Christmas 2007, they would have just laughed at me. Today it is a reality.”

The third phrase is: “Well usually ...but now I don’t know anymore.” Traditional climate patterns that Greenland elders have known their whole lives have changed so quickly in some places that “the accumulated experience of older people is not as valuable as before,” said Rosing. The river that was always there is now dry. The glacier that always covered that hill has disappeared. The reindeer that were always there when the hunting season opened on Aug. 1 didn’t show up.

No wonder everyone here speaks climate now — your kids will, too, and sooner than they think.

Know-Nothing Politics, Paul Krugman, August 7.

So the G.O.P. has found its issue for the 2008 election. For the next three months the party plans to keep chanting: “Drill here! Drill now! Drill here! Drill now! Four legs good, two legs bad!” O.K., I added that last part.

And the debate on energy policy has helped me find the words for something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Republicans, once hailed as the “party of ideas,” have become the party of stupid.

Now, I don’t mean that G.O.P. politicians are, on average, any dumber than their Democratic counterparts. And I certainly don’t mean to question the often frightening smarts of Republican political operatives.

What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

In the case of oil, this takes the form of pretending that more drilling would produce fast relief at the gas pump. In fact, earlier this week Republicans in Congress actually claimed credit for the recent fall in oil prices: “The market is responding to the fact that we are here talking,” said Representative John Shadegg.

What about the experts at the Department of Energy who say that it would take years before offshore drilling would yield any oil at all, and that even then the effect on prices at the pump would be “insignificant”? Presumably they’re just a bunch of wimps, probably Democrats. And the Democrats, as Representative Michele Bachmann assures us, “want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, take light rail to their government jobs.”

Is this political pitch too dumb to succeed? Don’t count on it.

Remember how the Iraq war was sold. The stuff about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds was just window dressing. The main political argument was, “They attacked us, and we’re going to strike back” — and anyone who tried to point out that Saddam and Osama weren’t the same person was an effete snob who hated America, and probably looked French.

Let’s also not forget that for years President Bush was the center of a cult of personality that lionized him as a real-world Forrest Gump, a simple man who prevails through his gut instincts and moral superiority. “Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man,” declared Peggy Noonan, writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2004. “He’s not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world.”

It wasn’t until Hurricane Katrina — when the heckuva job done by the man of whom Ms. Noonan said, “if there’s a fire on the block, he’ll run out and help” revealed the true costs of obliviousness — that the cult began to fade.

What’s more, the politics of stupidity didn’t just appeal to the poorly informed. Bear in mind that members of the political and media elites were more pro-war than the public at large in the fall of 2002, even though the flimsiness of the case for invading Iraq should have been even more obvious to those paying close attention to the issue than it was to the average voter.

Why were the elite so hawkish? Well, I heard a number of people express privately the argument that some influential commentators made publicly — that the war was a good idea, not because Iraq posed a real threat, but because beating up someone in the Middle East, never mind who, would show Muslims that we mean business. In other words, even alleged wise men bought into the idea of macho posturing as policy.

All this is in the past. But the state of the energy debate shows that Republicans, despite Mr. Bush’s plunge into record unpopularity and their defeat in 2006, still think that know-nothing politics works. And they may be right.

Sad to say, the current drill-and-burn campaign is getting some political traction. According to one recent poll, 69 percent of Americans now favor expanded offshore drilling — and 51 percent of them believe that removing restrictions on drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.

The headway Republicans are making on this issue won’t prevent Democrats from expanding their majority in Congress, but it might limit their gains — and could conceivably swing the presidential election, where the polls show a much closer race.

In any case, remember this the next time someone calls for an end to partisanship, for working together to solve the country’s problems. It’s not going to happen — not as long as one of America’s two great parties believes that when it comes to politics, stupidity is the best policy.

Graziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele MassaferaGraziele Massafera, Maurício NahasGraziele Massafera

Graziele Massafera (b 1982), aka Grazi, this year Rainha da Bateria with Grande Rio, a while ago coming out of Big Brother Brasil (big pronounced big-gee), a sketchy reality contest, then Miss Brasil, spread for Playboy in 2005, bunch of other nudie mags, Rolling Stone in 2007, a princess to be sure, maybe coin a new term? BSP? Brasilian Samba Princess? ... and she swans about with her (plastic) tits hangin' out and a certain smile that becomes increasingly strained, even thin, as the years go by ... or is it just my imagination?