As one of the old classics said, and I paraphrase: "Where you look, defines your outlook." By email, you asked me several questions, so here are some of my answers.
On the fracking revolution
It used to be that massive environmental destruction happened in the God forsaken foreign countries or the poor empty parts of our motherlands. Not anymore. Now heavy industrial activities come to where we live and work, and environmental damage happens in the ecosystems we actually care about. That's the reality of resource exhaustion paired with the ever-growing appetite for these resources from us, the Bubble People.
Take "shale revolution" as an example: 10,000 tons of clean, round, well-sorted fracking sand per well, or one hundred 100 ton railroad cars (really big ones), or one very long train of sand per well x thousands of wells per year = environmental destruction, damage to watersheds, permanent changes of ground water distribution and levels, obliteration of farmland in Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc., silica dust inhalation, community destruction, and so on.
For economists these are merely externalities (or lives made unbearable by the sacred ritual of environmental destruction to make money; please look at China), but for me it is just one of the many reasons for the across-the-board decline of the U.S. And the Fed-created, bank-abetted “shale revolution” bubble popped regardless. ("Fed" means the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank.) This shale bubble was the only real economic growth in the U.S. economy in the last 5 years.
Each next “revolution” of this kind will leave even bigger wounds on the Earth’s thin skin and will harm us more. But it does not matter anymore: the progressing harm has been irreversible for quite some time. We, as a species, are on the final stretch of our “economic growth curve” before a major physical collapse, and nothing can prevent this collapse, no matter how much we discuss and explain the all-encompassing human myopia among ourselves and our government watchers. The popping of the bubble in which we reside will be most unpleasant and we will finally comprehend what is happening to the countless millions of desperate people, who today are on the other side. I reside uncomfortably close to that other side, so I see things a little differently than when I was bubbling away in Berkeley, California, or Austin, Texas.
On a positive note, there are still many mountains to blow up in West Virginia, Kentucky, and the rest of the world. There are still countless trees to be cut or burned. There are mangrove forests left to be converted to beach resorts or shrimp ponds that will help in killing the oceans. There are aquifers to be sucked out or polluted. And then there is air to be made unbreathable for millions.
But the victorious global free market must continue to march on unimpeded by human heart, conscience, and imagination.
What’s your solution? (A typically American question)
The issue of global inequality is extremely serious and solution almost impossible to arrive at and implement. I guess a good starting point would be to admit publicly and for a sufficiently long time, so that the customarily deaf and blind public registers, the past wrongs. This list is very long. It is easier to start from the U.S., because of its short history, which was nevertheless filled with the almost complete genocide of Native Americans, and the absolutely brutal treatment of the human cotton-picking machines, i.e., young, fit Negro slaves. This treatment was protected by U.S. Congress for many decades and led to the Civil War because of economic reasons (the deal was simply too good for the rich plantation owners in the U.S.'s South to exchange it for human rights). Some of this old treatment of black Americans is still well and alive in many of the city halls, police departments, jails, and prisons. We should add to this list the U.S.’s nefarious behavior in Central and South America, Asia, and Africa. Again, millions perished and untold damage has been done for us, the Bubble People.
Think of the U.S. and Europe as of the huge entropy-generating machines. We keep order and cleanliness inside and spew our wastes everywhere around the world. Thermodynamically, this cannot continue. With the too many devastated exterior countries, entropy must eventually be generated inside of our clean motherlands. In my mind, this interior pollution has already started in earnest, see the "shale revolution."
|Nice. My wife on the left and I thoroughly enjoy the green plants and the blue ocean. All the plants you see in this picture of a rich San Diego neighborhood are irrigated.|
Recently I walked in the wealthy San Diego suburb of Coronado, where many residents are not conserving water. I saw a guy power-washing his fence before painting it. If he really were conserving, he could have used a bucket and a rag. Then there’s the green golf course and park, and the water left on the sidewalks from night watering of the green lawns. The wealthy can afford water at any cost. They are not conserving and will not conserve. They feel that they are above the law and do not have to abide by social norms. Forget shaming them.When Mr. Roger Newell talks about the rich who will not conserve, he speaks for almost all of us, the Bubble People.
In Europe, the bloody history is much longer and even more complex, but it follows the same path of general genocide, brutal abuse of the poor, and repeated killings of local populations in most countries, including home countries. World War I and II were among the crowning European achievements, but they face stiff competition from the earlier valiant attempts at murder and mayhem.
Once we fully admit that the rich democracies today have been built on the thick, albeit somewhat fluid foundations of rivers of human blood, suffering and injustice, and brutal coercion to corruption in the poor countries, we may start taking corrective actions and reach out to the poor elsewhere in the world. But you can see that this is not going to happen with us, the Bubble People.
I don’t want this letter to become a lengthy diatribe and invite you to propose your own human solutions, not just escapist jokes designed to protect your bubbles.The second step would be to admit that the Europeans and Americans stole over $1 trillion from the poor Africa over the last decade or so, while aiding and abetting corruption, arms sales, proxy wars, mass murder, and ethnic conflicts. Nigeria alone saw over $200 billion disappearing from its soil and into the Western banks. Do you know that some 5 million people perished in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the recent decade or two? And all that for our control of their minerals and other riches. This achievement is almost as impressive as Hitler's final solution, but literally no one knows and cares about it. Just as no one cared about Rwanda and Burundi. We, the Bubble People, eat organic food instead.
If they had any recollection of these multiple tragedies, the good Europeans would perhaps recognize their own culpability in the recent tragic events and see humans behind the black and brown faces at the steps of their fortress. The same goes for the Americans, for whom it was so easy to reject the children fleeing from death in Honduras, into where we deported our local Honduran drug gangs from LA and broke the country. I still can picture that Republican monster space alien senator proclaiming on TV that “we must love these children with tough love and deport them immediately.” Obviously, the senator was speaking to his faithful constituents, the Bubble People.
Where is Doctor Who when we need him to save Planet Earth from alien space invaders?While I am at it, do you have any suggestions for atoning for other U.S. crimes in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Cuba, Haiti, and so on? Eh, maybe not. Instead, let's intone together: "U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!...." And why? Because we are the Bubble People.
What did you learn by living in the Middle East?
From my vintage point in the Middle East, the sum total of misery caused by the failed states here and in Africa is so overwhelming that I often gasp for air to breath. I see faces of all these dying and dead children, starving women, and drowned in the sea barefooted men. They all hope to reach and be inside of our bubble, and do so with such tenacity and desperation that we will not be able to shut ourselves away from their misery, to which we have richly contributed for a long, long time. It does not matter what Ms. Le Pen says, or German neo-fascists and white American policemen do. And Arizonians will not protect their border from the desperate Mexicans, fleeing from the very drug lords we have created and sustained in exchange for the drugs we devour in such quantities. Yes, we, the happy Americans, who have been eating the entire world from the inside of our luminous bubble. We sell them our superior weapons and movies in return and they eat this stuff.
Our bubble is bursting now. And, no, there is no such thing as a slow and gentle tearing of a bubble. There is a firm mathematical theory for the speed of the burst once it starts. The game today is to hide away all recognizable needles that might prick our bubble and pretend that the bubble cannot be popped. But what about the needles we and our government watchers have missed?
Wishing you a little more of a happy life in your personal bubbles, Tad