Tag Archives: Climate Change

Climate Change: Endgame

By Ken Johnson

I want to point out something that might not be obvious: Climate change is going to screw up the world — irreparably.

There are three, not four, horsemen of the apocalypse: climate change, immigration, and nationalism.

These harbingers of the end times are compounding each other, building off each other, and creating a positive-feedback loop.

The loop is simple: climate change causes immigration, immigration causes nationalist politicians, and nationalist politicians cause climate change.

Let’s break it down:

Climate change causes immigration

The Guardian newspaper predicts that by 2100, one million immigrants could be entering the European Union every year as a result of climate change.

About 40 percent of people live near the coast. They will be forced out of their homes as sea levels rise. In some cases, this will cause migration within a nation, but in other cases, it will cause people to move between nations.

That’s only part of the equation. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, are becoming more severe. Hurricanes destroy entire cities and entire systems of infrastructure, making large coastal areas uninhabitable. Think about Puerto Rico.

The problem isn’t hurricanes; it’s that many governments are unequipped to deal with hurricanes.

Again, think about the federal government’s incompetent response to Hurricane Maria.

Immigration causes nationalist politicians

I want to make something clear: immigrants do not cause nationalism— the fear of immigrants causes nationalism. The immigrants are doing nothing wrong.

Italy is a good example. With its heel stuck out in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy is the landing place for many immigrants from northern Africa.

Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, is considered to be the most important politician in Italy. He rose to power on the back of popular anti-immigrant sentiment.

“Ahead of the March election,” Time magazine reports, “Salvini put [immigration] at the center of his campaign. He made the wildly impracticable promise to deport 500,000 undocumented immigrants from Italy.”

The issue is that— whether it’s Salvini or Andrew Jackson— nationalist leaders use immigration as a scare tactic to get elected.

So as immigration starts to climb, nationalists will gobble up more and more power.

I also want to point out that nationalist politicians, just by being awful, cause immigration on their own.

Our planet is tilting sharply to the right.

Nationalist politicians cause global warming

At this point, it makes sense to use the United States as an example. President Donald Trump is a famous climate change denier. He called climate change a “Chinese hoax” and took the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

According to a recent Washington Post article, Trump’s main argument against climate change regulation is that regulation hurts the economy, so it doesn’t make sense while the “science on climate change is unsettled.”

The science is settled and corroborated by a recent EPA report, which Trump seems to be ignoring.

“A recent U.S. government report,” according to Forbes. “Suggests that global temperatures will rise by 4 degrees Celsius [by 2100]. … such large temperature rises would cause extreme heat waves, more floods and droughts … and leave many cities around the world underwater thanks to rising sea levels.”

When nationalist leaders say that climate change regulation will hurt the economy, they mean climate change regulation will hurt the short-term, economic interests of the ruling class.

Most of the time, doomsday columns like this end with a “call to action.” In the community college newspaper business, a call to action is a hopeful message that lets the readers know how they can help.

I’m not going to do that.

And, without sounding melodramatic, I want to say that you can’t help. These problems are too entrenched in our global politics to change before it’s too late.

It is possible to reverse climate change. Reliance on nuclear energy, reforestation, a primarily vegetarian diet, and clean manufacturing might help. Action would have to be immediate and global.

The ruling class, our politicians, executive boards, and CEOs, are not incentivized to help, so they won’t— like always.

The die has been cast.


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Environmentalist Bill McKibben speaks on campus

By: Kelly Rockey

Bill McKibben was the featured guess on May 16 episode of Bellingham’s Chuckanut Radio Hour where he discussed his memoir “Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist.” Photo by Kelly Rockey.
Bill McKibben was the featured guess on May 16 episode of Bellingham’s Chuckanut Radio Hour where he discussed his memoir “Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist.” Photo by Kelly Rockey.

“Scientists have identified the greatest problem that we have ever faced as a civilization, and given us a warning about it,” said environmental activist Bill Mckibben during an interview on the May 16 episode of Bellingham’s Chuckanut Radio Hour, hosted at Whatcom Community College.

The show was held in Heiner Theater and the college welcomed environmentalist, journalist and author McKibben as the featured guest of the episode.

The Chuckanut Radio Hour is an award winning radio variety show in Bellingham, and airs on KMRE 102.3 FM every Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. It was created in 2007 by Chuck and Dee Robinson, owners of Village Books in Fairhaven. The Robinsons host the show along with announcer Rich Donnelly.

McKibben has written 15 books about different environmental issues and dilemmas of the modern world. This was his second trip to Bellingham recent years, as he was here to speak out against the proposed coal train terminal in 2011.

“If any place can stop these coal trains, it’s Bellingham,” McKibben said, adding that Bellingham has a “real commitment to place.”

In his interview with Donnelly, McKibben spoke about more than just his experience with the coal train protests. He also talked about his most recent book, a memoir called “Oil and Honey: the Education of an Unlikely Activist,” which explains his journey from writer to activist. It highlights his personal experiences and involvement in what he considers to be a “grassroots movement” against the fossil fuel industry.

“The fossil fuel industry is the richest industry in the history of the world,” McKibben said. “We weren’t going to outspend them, so the only currency we could tap into was the currency of movements.”

McKibben is also the co-founder and president of 350.org, an organization that works to promote global awareness of climate change and motivate people to actively reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. McKibben said the name, 350.org, stems from the organization’s primary goal of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm), with current levels at 400 ppm.

“I realized we are going to have to make changes as a society. My background is not by temperament, but more out of necessity,” McKibben said. “It was two decades of watching nothing happen that slowly turned me from a writer to something else.”

McKibben said that future plans for the organization include continuing to spread awareness of climate change through education, “with a certain amount of confrontation,” referring to future peaceful protests.

“Our efforts have been getting bigger over the years and [are] still gaining steam,” said Mckibben. “We’re not big enough to beat fossil fuels yet, but were still growing.”

He also spoke about his experience leading a “civil disobedience action” against the Keystone Pipeline in Washington, D.C. a few years ago. While in D.C., he led a sit-in on the White House sidewalk for which he spent three days in jail on charges of failure to obey a lawful order. He said their goal was to “induce a certain amount of fear to the people they were lobbying against,” as political policies play a major role in the movement towards green energy.

McKibben is clearly not satisfied with the lack of progress the U.S. government has shown in its approach toward scientific discoveries related to global warming.

“The consequence that counts is not that they’re going to lose the planet, but that they’re going to lose the next election,” McKibben said. “We do have a kind of 25-year bipartisan record of accomplishing nothing in Washington on this thing.”

With fossil fuels providing a majority of the world’s energy, McKibben acknowledges that divestment in the fossil fuel industry will not be an easy task, but is far from impossible.

“There was one day this week that Germany generated 74% of the power they used from renewable sources,” he said. “That means the barrier is not technological.”

He said this was only made possible by the “political will” shown by the Germans.

“Political will is something we can manufacture if we set our minds to it. That’s why I spend my time now, more of it, building movements than writing,” he said.

The show also included a variety of other performances.

After a quick introduction from the hosts, the show began with the comedic musical talents of local artist Dana Lyons, whose songs mesh environmental activism with comedy and country music. He performed his song “Cows With Guns,” with a little help from the audience on the background vocals.

Lyons is also active in the movement towards green energy, and as a Bellingham resident, fought to prevent the coal train terminal at Cherry Point.

“We must stop these oil bomb trains,” Lyons said.

Next on stage was this episode’s rendition of “The Bellingham Bean,” a humorous vignette set in a fictional coffee shop, which is performed at every Chuckanut Radio Hour. The theme behind this episode was the idea of having bicycles to power the electricity of the shop.

After “The Bellingham Bean,” a few poems, also environmentally themed, were read before the show culminated with McKibben’s interview.

“The window for effective action is closing, and the action we need is great,” McKibben said. “But as the Germans have shown, we are capable of it.”

 


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Eco-journalist presents at Whatcom

By: Lynette Martinez

In a recent presentation on how people are capitalizing on climate change, environmentalist McKenzie Funk said engineers in Israel use a salinization machine to convert sea water into clean drinking water. Photo courtesy of Mckenzie Funk.
In a recent presentation on how people are capitalizing on climate change, environmentalist McKenzie Funk said engineers in Israel use a salinization machine to convert sea water into clean drinking water. Photo courtesy of Mckenzie Funk.

McKenzie Funk, environmental journalist and author of the book “Windfall,” gave a presentation at Whatcom Community College May 7 and discussed how people are adapting to and capitalizing on climate change.

“When I got back from the Arctic, it wasn’t, ‘Is climate change real,’ or ‘Does climate change exist?’ Climate change is very much real and very much exists,” said Funk.

The event, called “How the World is Preparing to Warm (and some are preparing to get rich in the process) started at 5:30 p.m. in Heiner Theater and was hosted by Whatcom’s Sustainability Club.

Sustainability Club Advisor Courtenay Chadwell-Gatz saw Funk speak last fall at Village Books in Fairhaven and thought his presentation would benefit Whatcom students, she said.

“A few club members recently talked with some students wh o still don’t believe climate change exists,” she added, which was part of the reason she invited him to speak on campus.

Chadwell-Gatz also said that her co-advisor for the club, Debra Lancaster, was recently “accused by a student for ‘pushing her agenda’ down his throat,” during a class discussion about environmental issues.

It is the Sustainability Club’s mission to educate the community about environmental issues and Funk’s

visual presentation helps in doing so, Chadwell-Gatz said.

“Fear-based approaches do not work well for proving climate change exists,” Funk said at his presentation, which was attended by a crowd of nearly 40.

Funk’s presentation included photos documenting his travels to 24 countries and 12 U.S. states, during which he observed how people are profiting off of climate change.

He said he observed three major results of climate change which people are capitalizing on most: Ice melt, drought, and deluge, which is a combination of sea levels rising and super storms.

Examples of these environmental issues, he said, that have an element of capitalism to them can be found in several countries.

In Greenland, ice is melting so much that land is being exposed and new mineral deposits are being discovered. Drilling for those minerals is how Greenland made enough money to declare independence from Denmark, Funk said.

“It’s really hard to find anyone in Greenland that doesn’t like climate change,” Funk said.

In South Sudan, where there has been major drought, land is being sold to other countries as farm land.

“A New York hedge fund manager struck a deal with the son of a South Sudan warlord to buy a chunk of land the size Delaware, where crops would be grown and shipped back to the U.S.,” Funk said.

Another example Funk used is that in Israel there is a desalinization machine that takes sea water and cleans it to make it available for human consumption. Ice melt causes increases in sea levels, thus more sea water is available to desalinize.

“The only downfall to running a machine like this is the amount of energy it consumes,” said Funk.

Funk emphasized that his work was not aimed at determining whether capitalizing on climate change is right or wrong, but towards determining ways in which it occurs.

“I wanted to tell a story that no one else has heard,” Funk said.

Whatcom student Taushia Saurel, 36, who attended the event said, “I am surprised to hear that companies have turned climate change into such a big business. Instead of capitalizing on climate change they should be investing money to prevent it.”

To further educate the community about environmental issues Whatcom’s Sustainability Club has been presenting a film festival for the last three weeks featuring documentaries discussing different environmental issues. Films are free and open to the public. The two remaining films are “Sun Come Up” which shows on May 14, and “Rooted Lands” which shows on May 21. Films will be showing in Syre Student Center room 105 at 11:30 a.m.

Nationally recognized environmentalist Bill McKibben will also be coming to Whatcom to speak on the Chuckanut Radio Hour May 16 at 5:30 in Heiner Theater.

“We are such a small campus in the middle of nowhere, so when we can get nationally recognized speakers to come to our campus, it’s a crime not to go hear them speak,” said Chadwell-Gatz, who encourages students, and the community to attend these events and get informed.

“Funk’s work has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The New York Times, according to a biography on his website.

The biography also said that Funk “won the Oakes Prize for Environmental Journalism for his story about the melting artic and was a finalist for the Livingston award for Young Journalists for his interview in Tajikistan with one of the first prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay.”

 

 


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