"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, June 2, 2017

Climate Change So What? The Perpetual, Inescapable Cycles Of Nature And History

Small American towns in the Fifties were typical of the Age of Innocence.  America had just won World War II, was the world’s first nuclear power, was an economic powerhouse retooling from tanks to automobiles, and was a nation which represented the best moral and ethical values of the modern world.

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America could do no wrong in the post-War period.  We were responsible for the generous rebuilding of Germany and Japan, were the model to be followed of democratic capitalism, and showed the world what ingenuity, enterprise, capitalism, and Protestant faith and discipline could achieve.

America has declined from that socio-economic and cultural pinnacle since then.  The Sixties exposed our warts – racism, segregation, sexism, and economic oligarchy – but we were quick to remediate our obvious failings.  In the late 60s and especially the 70s we showed our true colors.  Americans were at the barricades protesting injustice, adventurous wars, and capitalist excess.

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Of course such progressivism could never be sustained in such a profoundly and anti-government culture; and in the 80s there was a resurgence of me-too, get-what-you-can finance and Wall Street enterprise.  Liberal idealism was once again swept and tossed in the dumpster, and individualism reigned once again supreme.

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The ensuing years have seen see-saw conversions, reattributions, and recently hysterical identity politics.  The country cannot quite sort out cultural diversity, socio-economic divisions, and civil vs religious rights; and is at odds, contentious, and unhappy.

The nation has never before been beset by such contrariness.  The progressive ideal of inclusivity and multicultural harmony has yet to be achieved, and is in fact far from it.   Human nature persists; and with it ‘stick to your own kind’.  The more the Left insists on the higher legitimacy of race-gender-ethnic identity, the more sub-cultural groups organize to reject the majority and the mainstream.

The issue of climate change can only be considered within this historical context.  The country was founded on the basis of individual enterprise, Westward Expansion, Manifest Destiny, Six Shooter Law; and it was no surprise that as the nation prospered, urbanized, diversified, and democratized it would face uncomfortable realities.  What to do with all these immigrants who, granted, provided the labor to build our railroads, ship, planes, and automobiles, were The Other?

It was during the first wave of immigration that native Americans first faced the realities of multiculturalism.  Not only did these newcomers bring strong arms and backs, but contrary Catholic, European, and socialist ideas. 

The divisions and divides continued – Irish, Italians, Poles, and Jews were replaced by Mexicans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, and Africans; and cultural lines became even more markedly drawn.  These were not Europeans.

The story ends here.  Every civilization, society, and culture has been influenced and changed by immigration.  New ideas, perspectives, approaches, cuisines, and religions have been par for the course since Genghis Khan and the horse.  The great man thundered out of the steppes and marauded his way across Europe and Asia imposing and enforcing his own law.  Cultural transformation? Yes but he left as well tens of millions of genetic offspring in the wake of his assaults.

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Enter climate change, a completely predictable and understandable phenomenon and a result of historical imperative.  It was only a matter of time before population densities increased, urban agglomerations became the norm, industrial output surged to meet the demand, and the the composite environment of the Earth changed.   Of course the composition of the air changed with increased economic activity and prosperity.  Of course waterways were no longer as pristine as they had been when Native Americans fished them.

Cause for alarm? Hardly.  Despite Chicken Littles and environmental doomsday-sayers, the environment has, for neither better nor worse, changed.   European cities in the Middle Ages were the engines of social and economic development.  Florence became the textile-industrial heart of Europe.  Ec0n0mic and financial enterprise flourished.  So did rats and the Black Death.  Human civilization solved the puzzle, got rid of rats, fleas, and Bubonic Plague. 

Image result for chicken little fifties images the sky is falling

American settlers to the Old Southwest and later the Mississippi Delta died like flies as they cleared cypress swamps and leveled ground for King Cotton.  Malaria, Yellow Fever, and dengue killed thousands as they pursued their own manifest destiny.

Nineteenth Century engineers thought they had the solution to the devastating floods of the Mississippi and built a system of dams along the river.  Of course such febrile attempts to ‘solve’ and ‘tame’ the Mighty Mississippi were to no avail, and the River took its own course, flooding upstream and downstream as it willed.

Once De Lesseps and Walter Reed had tamed Yellow Fever, and once vaccinations had been developed against childhood communicable diseases, Americans thought that endless longevity was in sight….Until bacterial mutations, new viruses, and immune diseases appeared on the scene.  We were not all that protected after all.

Then came HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Avian and Porcine flu out of the jungles of Africa and Asia.  Who would have thought that monkey brains could have been the locus of the HIV virus? or that the taste for bush meat could have spread one of the 20th century’s worst epidemics?  or that African expatriates like sautéed cervelle, Asians love ducks and chickens and pen them up for greater efficiency, and Western humans like alternative sexual behavior?

Capitalism and human nature being what they are, it is equally no surprise that natural resources are consumed for energy.  That a little smog is worth 1000 jobs; that there are negative by-products to all  economic activities; and that it is next to impossible to slow an economic juggernaut once it has gained momentum.  Telling people in India, China, Indonesia, or Africa that they will have to be patient because of the environmental concerns of the well-to-do is just not in the cards.

Is climate change a problem? Yes and No.  All depends.  Cities like New York are already planning for rising sea levels – tidal wetlands along the Hudson and East Rivers; a system of Venetian canals throughout Lower Manhattan; new environmental architecture which takes advantage of tides and water flow.  Alaska, Saskatchewan, and Siberia are primed for boom times in agriculture.  The entire Northern Hemisphere is prepared for a better, more salubrious and productive climate.

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If such human adaptability were not enough, the strides made in genetic engineering will assure a new race of warm-climate , high-water adapters.  Even more dramatically the advances made in virtual reality are such that actual physical environments will be irrelevant things of the past.
In other words, the current hysteria about climate change, global warming and the incinerating Armageddon of our planet is completely unfounded – melodramatic, self-serving, and utterly fanciful.

Man is not the environmental predator as he is cast by the progressive Left.  He is an integral part of the environment, both influencing and influenced by.   He is neither culprit nor victim; but only a player in a grand scheme.

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