Wednesday :: Dec 22, 2010

The NYT Piece on CO2 Measurement is a Good Read

by Oly Mike

There are several interesting articles in the NYT today. The piece on scientist Charles Keeling and how he developed the process of calculating and monitoring carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is unusually long and detailed for a newspaper piece. It's also simply an interesting, well-written story. It's become impossible to cover climate science in any way that does not have a political edge, but the numbers tell a story and one thing is certain, no one gets to negotiate a bailout from the natural world when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Think tsunamis, earthquakes, mudslides, flash floods. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you are simply dead meat. Americans have been able to shield themselves from this stark reality through a variety of means. It's tempting to think that things can't change, that we americans may not always enjoy the stability that we have come to take for granted. Lots of structurally unemployed are waking up each morning with a fear that there is no economic home for them anymore in the US and that's got to be tough, but that's still probably about 15% of the workforce so that's not a watershed moment, especially if some significant portion of the structurally unemployed allow themselves to be manipulated by the servants of the ruling class and become frothing tea party fanatics instead of thinking hard about why the US has no manufacturing base other than military weaponry. I realize that it's tempting to seize on a spectacular big lie like "illegal aliens are taking our jobs and cutting off our heads" but we can do better if we keep our heads working on the problem.

The NYT also covers the repeal of don't ask, don't tell , the passage of the nuclear arms START treaty and the Food Safety legislation. I suppose we should feel good about these things being passed in the lame duck session, and I get a sense that the dems and maybe even the republicans felt they had to do something right after they passed the tax cuts for millionaires (tax cuts for senators?) and I don't think these legislative acts are the beginning of a legislative snowball of progressive congressional action. I think we are headed into 2011 looking at a Republican House that is going to be set on cutting government spending and expanding tax cut legislation.

It's the economy, stupid. That really rules the day. If there is some sort of economic recovery in the next two years that allows the 80% who are employed to avoid understanding hard facts like the CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, then the republicans (with help from Citizens United) will do well again in 2012. I think Obama failed to seize the moment when he came to office. We needed a jobs program with a focus on something big like energy independence and/or green energy transition, but he opted for a jobs program for the bankers. Krugman says Obama went cheap and I trust Krugman's analysis on that, but Obama also went the wrong way. The bankers jobs program was not the jobs program we needed in 2008. It's not the jobs program that we need in 2011. Here we go, new year on the horizon. Maybe Obama can resurrect himself and achieve in opposition to Congress what he could not or would not achieve with a Congress of his own party.

Oly Mike :: 7:24 AM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!