When I went into the yard several days ago, (OK--cage) I couldn't help but be shocked.
It was still dark, as the sun hadn't yet risen, not quite 7 a.m. It was nearly 60 degrees.
When I felt how warm it was, I was absolutely stunned.
The grass was still green, and it felt like a moist, spring morning.
I couldn't help but think of global warming -- the dumping of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which traps heat near the earth's surface, like a blanket on a bed.
It has been clearer than I've ever seen it in over 50 years of life.
I then thought that it was a mixed blessing that Al Gore wasn't elected in 2000, for if he had been it's doubtful that he would've been so outspoken about the causes of global warming, and the consequences for the powerful oil companies.
The theft of the election freed him to spend his time and attention on a matter close to his heart, and his resultant filmed lecture (and book), *An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It* (Melcher Media/Rodale) has reached more people, at a deeper level, than any presidential press conference could've.
Although long derided by corporate-paid pundits and conservatives (why are people called 'conservatives' who don't care about conservation of the planet?) as tree-huggers and many environmentalists who want to destroy U.S. business, there are few thinking people who dare to challenge the obvious signs of global warming. In December and January, cherry blossoms bloom in Washington, D.C. Flowers and bugs react to the warmth like it's an early spring.
In the frigid polar region, polar bears are drowning -- drowning! -- because of the growing distance between ice floes.
Human habitation (at least in cities) is endangered in this new world formed by human hands.
How serious is global warming? Jim Hanson, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote recently in *The New York Review of Books* (7/13/06) in the article, "The Threat to the Planet", what the difference of 5 degrees warmth means to global sea levels:
"Here too, our best information comes from the Earth's history. The last time that the Earth was five degrees warmer was three million years ago, when sea level was about eighty feet higher.
"Eighty feet! In that case, the United States would lose most East Coast cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami; indeed, practically the entire state of Florida would be under water. Fifty million people in the US live below that sea level. Other places would fare worse. China would have 250 million displaced persons. Bangladesh would produce 120 million refugees, practically the entire nation. India would lose the land of 150 million people." [p. 13]
That means the land and living areas for over 570 million people, all around the world would go underwater: *5 degrees!*
Never in human history have people caused so much vast devastation on such a scale.
*This* is civilization?
This is one of the costs of 'the American way of life.'
The catastrophe threatened by such an ecological crisis kinda puts terrorism on another plane of worry, doesn't it?
There have been wars and rumors of wars for fuels that are contributing to the destruction of the earth, and the flooding of its cities.
Politicians haven't moved a muscle to solve this very real crisis. That's because they are, by their very nature, but henchmen for corporations, which are concerned only about profit.
This system ain't the solution. Indeed, it is the problem.
Only the people, repudiating the system, can begin to change this emergent tragedy, by working together to build a new world.
Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal
HOW THE FORCES OF CAPITAL GOT US WHERE
[Col. Writ. 1/14/07] Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Quite recently, I offered some thoughts on the startling warm winter weather we're having.
While I talked about the probable impact of global warming (greenhouse gases), I didn't directly address the sources of much of it.
Let's be clear. Much of it, perhaps most, is cars. Some folks may be thinking -- 'uh oh -- here he goes again with that back-to-nature, John Africa talk again. He actually wants us to give up our cars!'
But how many of us know that in the good old days -- say, in the 19-teens, and the '20s, cars were electric cars -- run on batteries?
In the early third of the 20th century, most American mass transit was an electrical affair -- relatively quiet, with far fewer pollutants being belched into the air.
What happened? Greed happened. Corporate crime happened. Then mass pollution happened.
Writer and researcher Mark Zepezauer, in his brilliant 2004 book, *Take the Rich Off Welfare* (Cambridge, Ma.: South End Press) tells the story with brevity and clarity, as he writes:
"The extent to which automobiles dominate our lives didn't just happen by accident -- at least part of it was the result of a criminal conspiracy. Back in the early 1930s, most people living in cities got around on electric streetcars. Concerned that this wasn't the kind of environment in which they could sell a lot of buses, General Motors (GM), using a series of front companies, began buying up streetcar systems, tearing out the tracks, buying buses from itself, and then selling the new, polluting bus systems back to the cities -- usually with contracts that prohibited the purchase of 'any equipment using fuel or means of propulsion other than gas.' Sometimes the contracts required that the new owners buy all their replacement buses from GM.
"GM was soon joined by Greyhound, Firestone Tire and Rubber, Standard Oil of California (also called Chevron), and Mack Trucks. In 1949 -- after these companies had destroyed more than 100 streetcar systems in over 40 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Salt Lake City -- GM, Chevron, and Firestone were convicted of a criminal conspiracy to restrain trade. They were fined $5,000 each, and the executives who organized the scheme were fined $1.00 each." [p. 139]
Boy -- what does that tell you about 'equal justice under law?'
(Speaking of John Africa, I'm reminded of the opening words of his *The Judges Letter*, which reads, "The courts are the tools of industrial plague, granting big business privilege to poison our earth.")
There are some 520 million cars in the world today; 200 million (38.5%!) are driven in the U.S. The U.S. has only 5% of the world's population, and drives nearly 40% of the cars.
When we are faced with the chilling spectacle of global warming, with the rising of the oceans along with temperatures, and with the very real threat to coastal cities and populations all around the world, there's a reason for it.
And some big U.S. businesses made plenty of money off it. The pollution in our lungs, the warming air currents melting the arctic snow and creating rising sea levels, the very same man-made temperature changes that have spawned stronger, more destructive hurricanes was translated into billions of dollars in U.S. corporate coffers, amassed over decades. It is the very essence of capitalism.
It didn't have to be this way. It could've been very different.
Only people, awake and aware -- and determined to build a new world, can begin to change it.
Time is running out for over 1/2 a billion people, whose living space is seriously threatened with flooding.
It's not too late to reverse this monstrous trend. But, it can't be kept for later.
Copyright 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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