Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, passed away at age 82 recently. He famously said upon stepping on the lunar surface ‘that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. Has America since the end of the 1960s moon program taken too man steps in the wrong direction and failed to leap in the right?
In Thomas Friedman’s 2008 book ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’ the author points out several interesting facts quantitatively about the effects of humanity living upon Earth and tearing ups it’s ecosphere in quest of a planetary bloated middle class. For most of the past 670,000 years the most parts per million of CO2 the atmosphere has had was 300 before it began its cooling cycle. Presently the ppm for CO2 is about 400.
Barrack Obama plans to raise U.S. public debt to 26 trillion dollars the next ten years though that’s on an optimistic schedule. Just one disruption of Persian Gulf oil through war would drive oil to 200 dollars per barrel and throw the U.S. economy into depression. That’s the good new though, for on the present schedule to increase the world middle class to an American standard of living the world will need 26 trillion watts of electrical power, while the amount of CO2 the world can afford to live without radical global warming is just 2.6 trillion watts. Right now the world uses about 13 trillion watts.
Nothing has changed on U.S. reliance on global oil from Muslim countries, Venezuela and Canadian tar sands either. That reliance is funding the world’s Salafi-Wahhabi-Sunni radicalism that the U.S. borrows money to war upon in Afghanistan (technically upon its ‘terrorists’ that kill U.S. and N.A.T.O. sojurs. The salt of the wars sojurs seem to be those without work in the U.S.A, foreign immigrants seeking citizenship and graduates of Pakistan’s 35,000 madrassas of which the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa is the largest of recent times with thousands of students amongst whom Mullah Omar is an alumnus.
The Democratic Party of the United States under the Obama administration has taken a turn toward reaming the middle class and degrading the poor actually creating an explicit policy of making the Democrat Party one for the middle class. The poor essentially have no voice in a party that is no longer about economics so much as class rights for constituent members that are female, homosexual or non-white. The separation of the poor from the middle class is not for the benefit of the United States in this critical period of national history. It would be far better to structure just one class besides that of the rich.
The rise of the middle class and of globalism in the post cold war era has fueled an insatiable ethos of economic expansion founded upon exuberant consumption of the world’s finite natural resources. Ecological economists such as Herman Daly have formulated fundamental relationships quantitatively explaining the problems of increasing demographics and resource consumption with finite resource supply. In the midst of the increased demand driven with the logic of the victors of the cold war economic contest between free markets and communism the small quiet voice of economic rationalism has been lost.
Adam Smith and the founders were not posturing fops of power but were political and economic rationalists seeking the well being of mankind. In the tragic counter cyclical rise of global warming as the flip side of the coin of economic advance without macro-environmental reason the giant leap for mankind that Neil Armstrong made too was set-aside in the Obama administration as too expensive to follow up.
Democratic government needs to be responsive to the real interests of the people rather than aloof advocates for narrow class interests. With the present world demographics the world population will rise to about 10 billion souls by 2050 when the ppm of CO2 should be more than 550. By 2075 the ppm of the Earth may be 800 ppm. That radical level and the inexorable mass extinctions of life on Earth, loss of rain forests and global warming will probably create a demand for fascist socialist authoritarianism or some clandestine power will alternatively deploy advanced biological weapons to cull humanity to a level that would allow the global CO2 levels and species diversity to recover as best it can-if it can.
It is quite possible that with the proliferation of genetic recombinatory technology and vast resources invested in expanding the health of human beings from the rich-down that the classic philosophical ethics problem of does one save the many or the one will be changed to does one eliminate the many and their automobiles and save some of humanity or allow them all to perish?
Actually the class philosophical problem is formulated differently, it goes…it a runaway streetcar named desire is heading down a street street toward a fork, and on one fork lies a newborn baby and on the other track lie several middle class Americans with smartphones and million dollar mansions paid for with derivatives, if you had the power to flip the switch and send the streetcar to squash the many or the one, who would you save?
I should stipulate that the choice is entirely abstract and unrealistic. In an actual emergency few think about ethics-they just act if they can. Probably few people would even make the choice to kill one or a few individuals to save many individuals unless they were already killers. Unfortunately with the better part of a century to consider the decline of the prospects for life on Earth many people may consider the problems, and some one or a few may choose to take up the way of culling the crop to perhaps 200 million survivors in order to save humanity. The better choices are to make things work well a priori and avoid the crises that stimulate such considerations. I would guess the ripening of such possibilities should not start before the year 2030.
In the meantime, the United States may seek to make itself self-reliant on its own fossil fuels to free itself from redistributing financial power to the Muslim oil producers. That’s a good idea so far as it goes, yet the entire infrastructure of transportation, housing and energy use in the United States needs to be changed directly if it is to be any sort of meaningful positive role model in the war against global CO2 increase and species extinction. The Obama administration and Majority leaders Reed as quietists on an effective ecological economic reform movement, perhaps doing the public to a dialect between the middle class and the rich over health care and special blankets while they send soldiers to fight the poor Muslim suicide bombers and their wealthy oil global power redistribution planners wherever they may hide.
A Romney administration may need to develop U.S. fossil fuel assets so far as it can without endangering critical habitat on and offshore, yet a green economic reform requires substantial economic innovation and new zoning laws. Homes could be 500 sq foot solar power absorbing geodesic domes with high albedo able with super-insulation mass-produced for foreign and domestic export. Farms could have electric tractors following a grid with remote piloting ‘farmers’, and U.S. transportation should become vehicle less human body high-speed movement tubes to places too far to walk or ride and electric bike.
Humanity cannot afford a business as usual approach to the global warming and species extinction twin tower security issues that may make this the last human century. The comfortable do not believe the problems are real, and that is the problem.