The Pumpkin Extra: Doomsday Edition
New, improved Truth
‘White House press secretary Sean Spicer also went on the attack.
‘”There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable, and I’m here to tell you it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable as well.”
‘Referring to the inauguration crowds, Mr Spicer said: “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe. These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm about the inauguration are shameful and wrong.” – BBC News report, 22 January.
So now we are starting to see the true face of the Trump era: his press secretary says telling the truth is shameful and wrong; so he doesn’t. The crowd at his boss’ inauguration ceremony was the biggest ever, period, and if the press doesn’t report that as absolute fact they will be “held accountable”.
The undoctored visual record and statistics from the Washington public transport network prove irrefutably and stand for all time as witness that the crowd at Trump’s triumph was about one-fifth the size of that attending President Obama’s 2008 inauguration, with acres of empty seats in the bleachers and standing room only everywhere, while the Nilsen ratings showed the TV audience was also well down.
The swearing-in was, it’s true, accompanied by a large demonstration, with ‘ugly scenes’ involving police and anti-Trump protesters. The following day, millions of women around the world took to the streets to demand there should be no erosion of their right to equality and civil liberty under a misogynistic, racist and authoritarian administration.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that the President’s personal ego-bearer has decided this was the greatest reception ever accorded by an adoring public to an incoming office-holder. He personally counted “1.5 million” people in the crowd, he had the best view of anyone, and so that’s what it was.
Many commenters have tiresomely waved their old swastika flags around to hail this or that political action or entity as being ‘like the Nazis’, or ‘like Hitler’. It’s generally a gratuitous comparison. Trump himself has compared the CIA and FBI investigations into Russian interference in his election as like ‘Nazi Germany’, although he also says he loves the agencies and supports them “1,000%”….. Another of his little Freudian slips, I fear. He loves Nazi Germany?
But I can think of no more succinct a metaphor for fascism than that first naked attempt by Sean Spicer – remember the name, one day he will be as well-known as Dr Josef Goebbels – not just to manipulate the supposedly free press by putting a slant on a story or feeding them fake news or favouring one journalist over others or covering something up or issuing an unwarranted security ‘D-notice’ or slipping a dastardly new, undebated policy out under cover of some blown-up ‘storm in a teacup’ story – all the minorly propagandistic manipulations and deceptions that go on all the time in the corridors of shame.
No, this was a genuine abuse of a power only momentarily conferred that day, in blatant violation of the First Amendment: “The dress is purple and white, not black and red, and if you people can’t see it that way despite all the evidence of your own eyes, if you don’t accept and print New Truth, we have the power to destroy you.”
Four more years.
Theresa May was only the eleventh world leader to be telephoned by President-elect Trump on his dubious election victory and invited to congratulate him. The UK’s most noxious ambitious nonentity, Farage immediately hopped on a flight to be photographed in a golden lift with the Trumpkin, the little sucky British elevator boy looking immensely pleased with his PR coup, like a chimpanzee in heat.
But like the instantaneous conversion of the roistering Prince Hal to majesterial seriousness on becoming King Henry V, Trump has swatted away the Falstaffian Farage: “I know thee not old man, look to thy prayers”, and invited May to Washington this weekend, her Louis Vuitton overnight bag packed with tax concessions to US corporates, as the first of the formerly sceptical world leaders who must now beat a path to the door of the Sun-King from Queen’s and pay homage to the world’s most powerful psychopath.
It hurts to laugh, but here are Mrs Yin and President Yang, nose to tail: May, desperate to get some hot action on the global trading front as a buffer against the hawkish Europeans and their fearsomely frigid Brexit negotiators, desperate to cling on to the rotting transatlantic partnership nobody in the USA from Trump down to the real elevator boy even remembers existed; firing rogue missiles accidentally at Florida – look out, Ivan! -; and here is Trump, desperately unpopular, poll ratings already in avalanche mode, globally reviled, feared and hated before he’s even started work on destroying the German economy and the free press, before the first breeze-block has been laid with dribbly Chinese cement by an unpaid contractor in his historically pointless, silly wall; desperately seeking validation from somebody, anybody, another photo op – even some witchy old pussy from golf-course-land…
Do we know anyone who isn’t overwhelming the NHS with psychosomatic illnesses and ‘inadvertent’ accidental injuries, brought on by profound depression? This morning, I missed my footing going downstairs and whacked my head hard on the wall.
It really isn’t the kind of thing I usually do, even on a Sunday.
It felt more like a cry for help, really.
“There’s no correlation, believe me, between intelligence and the ability to make money.”
From: Environment Correspondent, Norma Winters ©2017. @spacex.com
As Trump grasps the reins of power in America and vows to restore jobs in coal and oil and gas extraction, that we thought and hoped had gone forever, as they have in many other countries not afraid to face the future, the fate of our fragile atmosphere now hangs in the balance. It becomes easier to blame greedy US shareholders and overpaid executives – and, now, the ‘disappointed’ voters of post-industrialising middle America – for the reckless endangerment of our one shared planet.
The barbarous appointments of extreme climate-change deniers to positions of power over the environmental agencies, the elevation of the ruthless Exxon oil boss Rex Tillerson to have charge of US foreign policy, are likely to cause dismay around the globe as Trump threatens to dismantle the already out-of-date Paris accord, that attempted to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 deg C. We may already have passed that threshold. As reported in Scientific American magazine, warming since 1900 is accelerating rapidly, reaching 1.48 degrees in the first three months of 2016.
As expected, 2016 ended up the hottest year in recorded history, coming on top of the previous second hottest year – 2015 (only marginally cooler than 2014). The Arctic is threatened, rising temperatures heralding a devastating release of stored methane; a far more effective greenhouse gas than CO2. The Jetstream is in chaos, bringing terrible winter conditions to Europe but warming the Arctic. In the southern United States, the tornado season has arrived, two months early. Sixteen people have died.
I’m old enough to remember the great blanketing smogs that killed thousands in London and other British cities in the early 1950s; somehow as a toddler with asthma I lived through them. So I can sympathise to some extent with the choking citizens of Beijing and Guangzhou . This year’s smogs in northeastern China have been of epic proportions, joining up to become the worst and most lethal ever.
No-one seems to relate the atmospheric conditions to the vertiginous rise in the numbers of cars in those countries, that have virtually – and in some cities compulsorily – replaced bicycles as the popular mode of transportation. Car production has become a measure of economic health; in truth, it’s a harbinger of disaster.
In the 1950s, there were very few private cars. It was the unexpected nationalisation of Iran’s oil industry, on which Britain had largely depended for its supply, and a series of poor winters that forced householders to burn cheap Welsh brown coal, emitting plumes of sulphur dioxide that became trapped under inversion layers caused by high-pressure weather systems.
Which is why I react with scorn and derision to statements that China is ‘leading the way’ globally in reducing carbon emissions.
As a long overdue public health measure, Britain introduced the world’s first Clean Air Act in 1956, 60 years ago. We knew what to do then, it was elementary: stop burning coal in our domestic fireplaces. Not burning coal was something we were rapidly able to legislate for, as the British were used to taking orders after six years of total war, and by and large it worked as new sources of heating were rapidly developed, ‘central heating’, depending on cleaner and more efficient (though still polluting) centrally generated, nationally distributed energy.
So, given that we knew and had experienced the public health and environmental risks and the measures needed to eliminate them back in the 1950s, why has it taken China the best part of 60 years to even start thinking about not burning coal when they also have a major problem from automobile emissions to contend with? Is it good enough to say, oh, they were a peasant economy, Chairman Mao held their development back through the years of the Cultural Revolution? (Better at least than continuing to blame the colonial British.)
A centrally directed economy, they could so easily have followed Britain’s lead and banned the burning of fossil fuels at a much earlier stage. Instead, they continued (and continue) to burn as much domestic coal as they could cheaply dig out of the ground in a reckless bid to catch up with Western manufacturing economies, without looking for any cleaner solutions until recently; and they are, literally, reaping the whirlwind.
The rush to solar and wind power is, in characteristically Chinese fashion, vertiginous: already, within about seven years China has become the world’s largest generator of electricity from renewables; but so are they still also the world’s biggest polluter from fossil fuels and industrial effluents.
For years after it became clear in the late 1970s that carbon dioxide levels were rising to dangerous proportions (the probable warming effect of CO2 absorbing sunlight had been known for 100 years), China and India were prominent in resisting all attempts to stop them polluting the atmosphere on the infantile grounds that it was the ‘right’ of all developing nations to achieve their full economic potential regardless of the known environmental risks, arguing that the northern nations had no right to lecture them as we had already translated our own coal reserves into manufacturing supremacy and were merely trying to maintain our relative economic advantage.
Two wrongs, they say, don’t make a right. China is now ruefully surveying its devastated landscapes, its filthy, contaminated rivers; gulping its remaining oxygen through gas masks. Normal atmospheric oxygen is 20 per cent of the mix of gases we breathe. All creatures other than anaerobic bacteria need oxygen to live. In parts of the ‘developing’ world, in the teeming, choking supercities the oxygen level can fall at times to as low as seven per cent.
That’s a model for the rest of us to view with considerable alarm.
Climate scientists are not very good at explaining just why the biota – and hence, the human race – is potentially doomed to extinction within decades. We imagine, don’t we, that rising sea levels or something are the main threat; superhurricanes, or possibly ‘resource wars’, declining food production; incursions by millions of starving refugees from sub-tropical latitudes.
All those things put together are going to happen, are already happening, but they do not appear to threaten the existence of all life on the planet. Even a nuclear war would probably not achieve that.
Oxygen depletion does, however. And as the seas warm, and acidify with poisonous CO2, the plankton dies and melting ice dilutes the salinity, those vast engines of production are producing measurably less oxygen. We are changing the balance of our atmosphere at a measurable rate.
For the first time ever, last summer the northern Jetstream was found to be meandering so wildly around the globe that it merged for a time with the southern Jetstream. Huge ice shelves in the Antarctic are breaking up, glaciers disappearing in the Andes, the Alps, the Hindukush. Northern Arctic sea ice this winter is at its lowest recorded extent, and its thinnest. One and a half trillion metric tonnes of methane lies stored in the Arctic sea and its bordering tundra. Just a few billion tonnes evaporating into the atmosphere will be enough to trigger runaway warming. In December 2016 the mean temperature in some areas of the Arctic was 20 deg C above normal. In January 2017, it’s been measured locally at up to 50 deg C. above normal.
And we have possibly the most wilfully, scientifically ignorant President in history in the White House, a barely literate moral imbecile with the attention span of a flea, who says he believes that tens of thousands of scientists all around the world, from a whole variety of different disciplines, not just climate scientists, are involved in a secret Chinese conspiracy to damage the US economy.
Actually it’s no secret, but not in the way he thinks. As President Xi vows to continue with China’s leading role in the Paris damage limitation exercise, embarrassed and fearful about popular unrest at the environmental degradation of his cut-price economy, China continues to try to force the pace of economic growth at a wholly unsustainable 7 per cent a year.
Its plentitudinous middle-class goes on growing, its car population goes on increasing, and why not? Look at the US! Look at Britain – we registered another two million cars last year, which after scrappage brings the number of cars in our little island to 32 million: 128 cars for every mile of road – not including a further six million motorcycles, buses and commercial vehicles. Cities are poison traps: according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, now threatened: “A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.”
You do the math. And then add the NOx.
So, yes, we in the West, the North, are deeply guilty. The Industrial Revolution began in Coalbrookdale, Derbyshire in the 1740s and we’ve been burning every bit of stored fossil energy we could get our hands on ever since: keeping our buildings overheated, manufacturing stuff we can throw away or burn, providing half the population with a ton and a half of individual wheeled transportation unit with in-car entertainment we can throw around enjoyably at speed on roads eating up our green countryside and devastating the prospects of our rapidly extincting wildlife.
It’s been fun, hasn’t it.
And now it’s almost certainly too late to stop.
In the days after the 9/11 attack on New York, planned and carried out mainly by Saudi Wahabbists – Saudi Arabia controversially being at the time, the USA’s biggest source of cheap oil imports – a stop was put for three days to all commercial flights over the USA.
Within a matter of hours it was noticed that the skies were becoming clearer, the sun brighter. It was then more generally realised that water vapor and sooty carbon particulates injected high into the atmosphere from jet engines had reduced sunlight by about 20 per cent over the five decades’ long relentless growth of air travel, and no-one except maybe farmers had much noticed. Now the pollution was gently falling from the sky, leaving purer, cleaner air.
There are plenty of other sources of muck that gets pumped into the sky, as well as volcanoes. We may recall the discovery in the 1980s that chlorofluorocarbons – CFCs – used in a variety of industrial processes and consumer white goods were eating the protective ozone layer, allowing more cancer-causing UV rays to reach the ground. An international ban followed, and the holes in the ozone have been closing up again.
If only global warming caused cancer, we might have done something about that too.
By reflecting sunlight, high-altitude particulates – pollution – have been protecting us from overheating the atmosphere as the CO2 content has risen steadily from 280 ppm in the mid-C18th, to over 400 ppm today. So let’s burn more! Maybe, but the more sunlight that’s reflected, the less is available for growing food crops. Generating particulate smog is inimical to our health. We’d need to go on doing it, probably forever. The atmosphere would go on getting more polluted. And the colder the weather, the more fuel we’ll burn.
So it’s a self-defeating strategy. The only way forward is renewables.
It’s been calculated by some climatologists that if we stopped ‘civilization’ – all generation of fossil-fuel energy: no flying off on holiday, no manufacturing, no cars, no heating, no lights or pumps, flat mobile phone batteries – all of it now, right now, it would make absolutely no difference to the warming of the climate.
The additional CO2 necessary to get us to a probably unsurvivable six to 10 deg C. of warming by 2026 is already in the system; and without the reflective cooling effect of pollution we would start to see a rapid and irreversible rise in global temperature, not in decades, but within DAYS.
The world is teetering on a knife edge.
And the worst of it is, Trump may even know this, but just not care. He has too many wealthy donors to reward; rapacious billionaires who stupidly imagine their gargantuan wealth will save them from sharing the fate of the rest of the planet. (There’s no correlation, believe me, between intelligence and the ability to make money.)
He may just be crossing his little fingers, hoping that the fast-approaching extinction of the species doesn’t arrive on his watch.
Of course, there will be no-one to bury his grandchildren.
Does he care?
At more than one billion metric tonnes a year, China consumes roughly a quarter of the world’s coal output. (Although beaten to first place as the world’s worst CO2 polluter by Canada and its miles of stinking tar-sands). Figures showing declining consumption are invariably revised upwards, producing a small year-on-year growth. A helpful explanation is provided by:
I’m not one for plugging links, have no idea how this stuff works, but I’m going to risk a suggestion anyway that you view this YouTube vid, principally because I keep trying just to give you a dead link as usual, to let you choose to go there or not, but this image comes up every time I try to paste the URL, I can’t get rid of it and I can’t make it any smaller, so I’m taking it as an omen. (Acknowledgments to whoever made it, sorry about your copyright and that.)
I’m not endorsing the content, although as a former journalist I’d say it’s serious reportage, of public interest. And the Trumpkin was inaugurated today. A black day in history. So bad.
If nothing else it shows that theories about the Russians and Putin and Israel and Trump’s seldom-mentioned mob connections – it’s no disgrace, you can’t build in New York or operate casinos in Atlantic City without ’em – fixing the election, have to stand comparison with the alt-right stuff, the Breitbart ‘News’ website connection, that ghastly blonde skeleton who goes on air all the time defending him (I’m bad on names, thank God. Kitty something? Pussy Galore?).
What it all tells us is that in politics, money corrupts and absolute money corrupts absolutely. Yet about 2/3 the way through, we’re shown a list of the obscenely wealthy donors to US political causes and, hey, you know what? There are just as many filthy rich capitalists donating to liberal causes, as much money every election time as most of us are likely to see in a lifetime, as there are to the neo-Nazis!
So what we’re seeing here is a kind of tennis match between men with big yachts. Only, we’re the ball.
PS – guess what Trump has tweeted in response to his dire poll ratings, the worst ever for an incoming no-joke President on Inauguration Day?
And, okay, couldn’t resist… This one says it all: