The Green War Archive – November 14, 2020

Compiled and annotated by Yutaka Yokoyama (yokoyama10[at]gmail[dot]com)


October 28, 2020

FLIGHT
Amitav Ghosh to Kartika Budhwar for the South Asian Avant-Garde Anthology:
“I’ve always resisted [the pressure to write] apocalyptic fiction. … With a couple of my books they seemed to ask, almost, for an apocalyptic ending. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do that, and I still cannot. … When a writer writes about some sort of cli-fi [climate fiction] thing, about the world eaten up by apocalypse but a few people manage to escape. What is that? Really it’s a kind of genocidal imagining, isn’t it? That’s what it really is. It’s a sort of genocidal imagination. … And there’s a very long tradition of this in Western literature and in Western modernism. And some would say that it goes back to, you know, apocalyptic Christian cults and so on. …”
NOAA-ESRL/Scripps (“In-situ CO2 Data”):
October 28, 2020, CO2 411.53 ppm
October 28, 2019, CO2 408.58 ppm
October 28, 2018, CO2 406.90 ppm
October 28, 2017, CO2 403.96 ppm
October 28, 2008, CO2 383.12 ppm
October 28, 1992, CO2 353.30 ppm (year of UNFCCC)
October 28, 1960, CO2 314.58 ppm

October 29, 2020
FIGHT
  • UN Secretary General Guterres to the G77 and China:
We need to attain the goals of the Paris Agreement. … Currently, the world is way off track. … The Paris Agreement emphasizes the importance of common but differentiated responsibilities [emphasis added] in light of national circumstances. …”
  • Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaming, to the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Groups:
Both China and the UK should uphold the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities [emphasis added], ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits, and accommodate developing countries’ concerns over funding, technology and capacity building ….”
  • Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the G77 and China:
Five years ago, all Parties agreed to keep global warming to well below two degrees and to pursue efforts to work towards 1.5 degrees, reflecting the principle of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities [emphasis added] and respective capabilities. … [but] developed countries have failed to live up to their obligation ….”
Note: “Common but differentiated responsibilities” is a phrase used internationally to refer to the first guiding principle in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). On the one hand it’s a cumbersome string of words for conveying a moral principle so elementary it shouldn’t need to be mentioned — the truism that degrees of responsibility vary. On the other hand, because the United States has consistently rejected even this axiom, other countries have needed to signal their unity in some distinct way. The phrase therefore remains central to international climate diplomacy 28 years after its 1992 formulation in the UNFCCC.

NOAA-ESRL/Scripps (“In-situ CO2 Data”):
October 29, 2020, CO2 411.72 ppm
October 29, 2019, CO2 408.85 ppm
October 29, 2018, CO2 406.00 ppm
October 29, 2017, CO2 404.38 ppm
October 29, 2016, CO2 403.02 ppm
October 29, 2015, CO2 398.99 ppm
October 29, 2010, CO2 387.89 ppm
October 29, 2000, CO2 367.73 ppm
October 29, 1992, CO2 352.98 ppm (year of UNFCCC)
October 29, 1980, CO2 336.20 ppm
October 29, 1970, CO2 323.01 ppm
October 29, 1960, CO2 314.14 ppm

November 4, 2020

FREE WILL
Good, quick, comprehensible defense of the idea of free will by Christian List in a ten-minute video titled “Science hasn’t refuted free will” posted by the British Academy. One part of List’s argument:
“Generally, to figure out whether something is real, scientists ask two questions. 1) Is postulating this entity or property necessary for explaining the world? And 2) Is it coherent with the rest of our scientific world view? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then this postulated entity or property meets the reality test, and scientists treat it as real, at least provisionally.”
WHAT DO DEMS REALLY WANT?
New York Times:
The U.S. [finally] Left the Paris Climate Pact … The American exit officially took effect Wednesday [November 4, 2020].”

All reports of the exit emphasized that Biden would immediately rejoin the Paris Deal. But what did Biden supporters really want? The Times’ climate writers asked Obama’s climate envoy Todd Stern for a comment. It was Todd Stern who, as Obama’s envoy at UN climate talks in Durban in 2011, told international negotiators, “If equity’s in, we’re out.”[1]  That wasn’t mentioned in the article.

In 2020, Stern was advising that the new administration should “come out very strong and decisively on the domestic side,” to “demonstrate that this really is a very high priority and that the new president is moving full speed ahead.” But what did that mean? The future of U.S. climate policy of course remains to be seen and will depend partly on public pressure. But Two recurring themes in recent elite proposals for American climate strategy are Nobel winner William Nordhaus’ “climate club,” and what you could call Veterans for Peace snowflake Roy Scranton’s “climate clobber.”

The “critical feature of the Climate Club would be a penalty for nonparticipants,” Nordhaus wrote without irony in May of 2020.[2]  The penalties he suggested were tariffs. Scranton’s grand vision (in The New Republic, April 20, 2020) was more dramatic, like a video game:

[C]limate change–driven destabilization has created and will continue to create situations that call for military intervention, coercion, and even state-building … enforcing standards for transition among those nations that prove recalcitrant. … The United States military is … the only[3] force capable of compelling limits on greenhouse gas emissions. … These challenges … will continue playing out for millennia. There is little evidence to suggest that human beings will find a way to manage this catastrophe ….”
Looking back in time to the previous year, 2019, the basis of both of these whacky ideas was established by Bernie Sanders (sad to say), in his remarks on July 9, 2019, while introducing his version of the Green New Deal:
I’m reminded today, in terms of the crisis that we face in climate change, about where the United States was in 1941 when it was attacked at Pearl harbor. And what happened at that point … the U.S. came together and within three years it had created the type of armaments program that was necessary, in fact, to win the war.”[4]

[1] See U.S. Department of State Press Release, Special Briefing, Todd Stern, December 13, 2011.
[2] Foreign Affairs, May/June 2020. Two proponents, among many, of Nordhaus’ idea, the Watson Institute’s Jeff Colgan and PhD candidate Fred Shaia, humbly suggested who the founding members of the club should be: “We’re thinking about the EU, the US, and China as sort of the three major economies that would be sort of minimally required to be in the club.” See: “Trending Globally: A Climate Agenda for the Next US President” video posted to YouTube on October 31, 2020.
[3] On October 17, 2020, Adam Tooze, Director of Columbia University’s European Institute, found another indispensable enforcer: “No other state, rich or poor, can match the authoritarian capacity of the Chinese regime to repress dissent among the domestic losers of transition [to the green future].”
[4] Not true. This “type of armaments program” is not what won the war. See Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, “Racing the Enemy.”


November 5, 2020
“WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON … WITH WHITE WOMEN?”
Democracy Now / Juan González:
“[T]his developing narrative that Latinos and, to some extent, African Americans shifted more toward Donald Trump in this election … is a largely false narrative. … [T]he real underperformers in this election were white voters … they voted in an even higher percentage for Trump this time than last time or than they did for John McCain in 2008. And this is especially true among white women. … Why are all the commentators not dissecting what the heck is going on in white America and with white women in America? … African American and Latino women are voting so overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, but not white women. And I think that needs to be analyzed more.”
VERY GOOD POINTS
Resistance News Unfiltered / Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah (translated into English):
On the attacks in France –
“This attack is rejected and condemned by Islam itself, and no one should attribute it to Islam. Islam and the Muslim religion reject it, because Islam (formally) prohibits killing the innocent, attacking them or inflicting any harm on them, whatever their beliefs or convictions. And any similar attack that has taken place in the past, or that will happen in the future, will always be in our eyes, Muslims, and primarily from the point of view of Islam, (strongly) rejected and condemned, wherever it occurs, whatever the target, whether in France or anywhere else in the world. This point must be clearly established, as a principle and as a basis, so that our position is quite clear thereafter. … I invite you to consult the archives for the years 2011-2012 … We have told you many times not to embrace these terrorist groups, not to support them …. We have warned you and urged you to be cautious. But you got carried away by your arrogance and your malice, and did not accept our exhortations … I repeat with the same words I used then (in 2012), when we chose our side: I said we would never be on the side of the head-cutters, the chest-rippers, the (human) liver-eaters, the cut-throats. These people were your allies, the groups that you supported, that you protected. Therefore, it is you, the French, the Europeans, the Americans and their allies in the region who must reconsider your actions and behavior, and renounce the use of these terrorist groups as instruments in the service of (your) political projects and (your) war projects. And you never learn (from your mistakes). In Afghanistan, that is what you did (against the USSR), and you paid the price on September 11 (2001). You made those mistakes, and you make them again, always the same mistakes, the same mistakes, the same mistakes [bold emphasis added]. …”

And on manifest insincerity –
“You must first convince Muslims that your claims are true and sincere … [I]n reality, what we can say (to accurately describe the reality) is that when a certain community is affected (the Jews), when it comes to Israel or the Zionists, there are clear limits imposed to the freedom of speech. But when it comes to another community, an entire Ummah, 2 billion people, when it comes to their holiest things, then there is total freedom of speech.”


FINGERS IN THE WIND

The latest in a string of radio/podcast shows* dedicated to explaining the growing opposition to neocolonial conservation was from a New Hampshire Public Radio program called Outside/In. Early in the November 5 episode of that program, Columbia University historian Karl Jacoby described the basic issue:

“The typical rhetoric is that a national park is protecting wilderness. But … this wilderness was not there from the beginning. It very much had to be created by the removal of indigenous peoples.”
The 43-minute episode was titled “Fortress Conservation.” About half of it was an informative but sanitized synopsis of the genocidal military history of American-style conservation. For perspective, and as a point of comparison, it’s worth revisiting historian Mark Dowie’s writing on the topic in the Boston Globe more than a decade earlier:
“[White authorities and militias] burned acorn caches to starve the Miwok out of the valley. … Twenty-three [Miwok people] were later slaughtered at the foot of El Capitan, the towering granite obelisk that has become a totem of California wilderness. Although it took some years to complete the task of creating a fictional wilderness in Yosemite, all the valley’s residents were eventually evicted, and in 1914 their land became a national park ….”
(Mark Dowie, Boston Globe, “No natives allowed,” May 3, 2009)
There’s nothing like that in the 2020 New Hampshire radio program. But toward the end of the show, some matters of current relevance were briefly mentioned:
NGOs, like the World Wildlife Fund, international groups like the World Bank… and local and national leaders across the globe have all embraced fortress conservation. And like every time before – the places that have been set aside for protection are not unoccupied. … [They] are home to somewhere between 750 million and 1 billion people [emphasis added].”

*Two other soft treatments of the topic from October, 2020:
1. The Guardian’s Science Weekly podcasts on October 6 and 8, titled “Are the world’s national parks failing nature?” sponsored by the same foundations (BAND and Wyss) backing what Minority Rights Group International called the “planned dispossession of hundreds of millions of people” in the name of conservation.
2. KPFA radio’s Against the Grain show on October 26, titled “Rethinking Conservation,” in which Robert Fletcher and Brahm Büscher were supposed to have explained how “conservation has been entwined with colonialism and capitalism since its beginning.” Büscher did. Fletcher not so much.

Note: Neocolonial tendencies in conservation are logically connected to neocolonial tendencies in climate activism, but current intellectual etiquette strictly prohibits talking about both in one discussion. The recent productions described above (and every other production) conform to this etiquette.


November 6, 2020

U.S. DEPT OF COMMERCE SUMS THINGS UP

NOAA (an agency of the U.S. Dept of Commerce):
“California … had its hottest October on record …. Arizona, Florida and New Mexico ranked as warmest on record for this 10-month period, while there were no notable regions reporting below-average temperatures. … Record wildfires scorched the West … Colorado had its three-largest wildfires in state history last month …. Through October 31, 11 named Atlantic tropical cyclones have made landfall in the U.S. this hurricane season, breaking the previous record of nine landfalls in 1916.”
Scripps Institution of Oceanography:
November 6, 2020, CO2 412.34 ppm
November 6, 2019, CO2 410.04 ppm
November 6, 2018, CO2 406.50 ppm
November 6, 2017, CO2 404.32 ppm
November 6, 2009, CO2 385.66 ppm
November 6, 1992, CO2 354.31 ppm
November 6, 1980, CO2 337.02 ppm
November 6, 1970, CO2 323.20 ppm
November 6, 1960, CO2 314.44 ppm