Thursday, December 10, 2009

Doing a Cheney: Tom Friedman Puts 'Climategate' in Perspective, Prepares for %1 While Chris Floyd Discusses the Boiling Point

(Photo Credits/Scientific American)

Copenhagen Climate Change Summit

What a mess. It's a rare day (as in when hell freezes over) that yours truly agrees with anything that  leading flatworlder doctrinaire, Tom “Fingernails on the Blackboard” Friedman has to say. Whether it's climate change or globalization, he has unexpectedly earned himself another PARTIAL temporary stay out of 2Truthy's doghouse for at least being on the same page for  his understanding of global warming science.

In today's Seattle Times Op-Ed column, Friedman registers his take on the current Copenhagen climate change summit disaster dubbed “Climategate" that has turned on the fire hose at credible scientific global warming research, threatening to dampen the burgeoning, global cap and trade carbon market momentum. Depending upon which camp you fall it into, when it comes to the volatile subject of global warming and climate change, the yea and nay camps both have much to gain or lose when looking at the debate through an economic prism.

Shrouding his thoughtful (or manipulative) message in a hawk (pro-war) and dove (pro-environment) analogy, Friedman begins by describing Cheney's 1% doctrine of logic when he declared the best strategy to “confront” a new, unprecedented type of threat, a "low-probability, high-impact event." Cheney explained:

"If there's a 1 percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaida build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response." Cheney contended that the United States had to confront a very new type of threat: a "low-probability, high-impact event."

This assertion, of course, was and is cold comfort to anti-war activists. Then Friedman compares Cheney's 1% doctrine to legal scholar Cass Sunstein's “one percent principle”, observing that Cheney “seemed to be endorsing the same "precautionary principle" that also animated environmentalists.”

War bad, environmentalism good. But true to Friedman form, what starts out at the beginning of his article as sober analysis falls as flat as the big, fat, flat world hoax the King of Globalization himself has choked on. Friedman concludes that even if global warming is proven to be a “hoax”, we at least should work towards building “a clean-power economy” which would “raise our energy costs”. What's this? Invoking the Royal “We”? Aye, and here lies the rub. Now "we" US taxpayer plebs are all “we”...Whenever the next big bubbles roll out, leave it to the wealthiest 1% to cook up ways to stick the bill on the growing numbers of poor who, through disastrous labor and trade policies from the same ilk, have destroyed the lives of millions of middle class American citizens. Group hug time?

At least he gets it right on the science and the desire to clean up this place. But he fails to address, as usual, the players behind the curtain and how, in an ungreedy global flat world, the wealthiest 1% have no proclivity to contribute in mighty, unprecedented ways to start covering the “clean power economy” costs by halting US job outsourcing (which he champions) and reforming lousy trade deals. And maybe it doesn't even matter if the science is right. What does matter is the growing divide between this US have and have-not society that he and his insider BFFs don't seem to ever want to change.

Whichever side you are on when it comes to the climate change debate, it is crystal clear that these two very wealthy, beltway tied, ex-vice presidents Dick Cheney and Al Gore  have no shortage of corporate oil industry experience and have both invoked the 1% doctrine. Let's hope that the spoils don't trickle up to the wealthiest 1%, as they tend to always do – because for all of the “global warming denier” bluster out there, a conservative guess would bet that 98% of it is coming from an increasingly alarmed population which is increasingly being left out in the cold by the wealthiest 1% doctrinaires who scream “Let them eat coal.”

And for all of the urgency involved to “get the job done” over the sham of a “health care” bill, so it goes at the Copenhagen Summit as President Obama has once again hummed the same mantra. Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque couldn't convey my thoughts on the climate change debate any better in this fine, timely essay entitled Boiling Point: Hijacking the Planet for Power and Privilege:

The Copenhagen talks have become captive of what we might call the "Reform Syndrome"; i.e., the absolute, urgent imperative to put together a crappy deal that gorges the rich and hobbles the poor in egregious ways -- but which can be palmed off on a compliant media and a diverted public as some kind of "reform." The important thing is that an illusion of positive action be created -- while the same-old same-old keeps grinding on behind the scenes.”

It's a status-quo thing, I know, and for what it's worth, I hate to see guys like Gore serving as the hubris stuffed, corporate Neo-frat boys dupe (or duper) in this bubble. Either way. The very best outcome of rolling ahead with a cap and trade carbon trading market is that if the US can't innovate and manufacture anything around here anymore and continues selling our jobs to the third world under the ruse of a Great Labor Shortage, at least it warms the cockles (what are those?) to know that the 1% who make the rules that play the fools will have pulled off another derivatives beast bonanza. US Plebs, get over yourselves!

Like Floyd says, the “same-old keeps grinding” and at least we can be certain that the beat goes on, blowing snows or sinking sands.



Burke said...

You have to wonder what Friedman knows about anything, other than going where the wind and the money blows. The whole notion of cap and trade/carbon offsets/credits is not only incredibly dumb, it is a backwards and indirect way of heading off true environmental problems. Speculating in futures is great fun for sports betting where, with the exception of degenerates, quality of life or important things like the environment aren't on the line. Leave it to the accounting geniuses to monetize the air, land and sea. Now compare this to monetizing something like speed limits into futures also. Still with me?

In the driving scenario, the correct answer is to deal with driving and speeding upfront and directly; where you pay to register the car and drive it, pay for the license, the insurance and you pay to pollute with regular, timely smog checks and your speeding tickets, etc.Think forward, or direct. If you're a company that pollutes, it shouldn't be any different. However, with cap and trade, carbon credits, enormous pools of money can be gambled, possibly dwarfing the energy futures market. Casino culture, betting on the environment. Creating a futures market out of garbage and pollution for multinationals to play in will reap unlimited billions and well, you know the rest. How do the well-heeled, relatively few casino owners/investors make their money? Off the large pool of fish.

2Truthy said...

Yeah, if the Supreme Flatworlder knows only one thing, it is where the money's coming and going and who's at the table - "enormous pools" of money can be gambled with this scheme and the problem with it is that it will only go to a handful of players. People around here are starting to get a little tired of that, ya think? C&T is an indirect cure for the environment's woes, at best.

So what's the *real* answer to cleaning up this place? Not cap and trade, but inventing proven alternatives and technologies to actually clean up this place. But in the absence of those and during the interim, what other bubble is there right now but to cook up cash/profit from a carbon market? This is why I have found a couple of Friedman's articles interesting - he seems to be saying (by omission) that this bubble is the only game in town unless "we" want to see the whole house of cards collapse. Do "we"? That's the question. On a scale of 1-10, I'd rate cap and trade a 4 or a 5 on some days, and a 2 on others, based upon what I'm reading and what I know about who's porking out on it.