Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Third Way Of Thinking About Global Warming - Plus A City Where Everything Is Contracted Out?

One of the things that I have never understood about the seemingly endless debate about global warming is why the conversation has been limited to just the two options. With neither of them being particularly correct. It's the same with political parties. There are only two of them that we're supposed to care about, and neither of them could beat a brood sow in a beauty contest. If I may show my early rural origins a little bit. As a kid I actually did have family relatives who talked that way.

The first global warming option has to do with stopping it. And is there anything new today that isn't supposed to be good for the earth while helping to end the effects of global warming? Everything from getting rid of plastic shopping bags to replacing single family homes with condos and taking the bus, there is hardly a product or marketing effort out there today that doesn't claim to have something to do with going green and saving the planet. For many living in the West this is about the closest thing to religion as they have ever experienced. And they cling to it like zealots.

Then there is the other side of the coin. The place where people are happy to inform us that mankind's so-called carbon footprint is so utterly insignificant in a world this vast that there has been no effect on the planet's climate whatsoever. Nor is there likely to be one for hundreds of years, if ever. And that all of the rubbish being pushed by the climate left has nothing to do with real science and everything to do with politics and increasing government control over every facet of our lives. In their eyes Green is an apocryphal creed, and saving the world from global warming has supplanted God in an increasingly godless world.

I have long been convinced that neither side of this debate is completely correct. Which is why when this topic invades my blog, I don't say much about it. A debate this vast and all-consuming for so many is hard to avoid, and it is better to let people just blow off some of their own personal global warmth than get in the way.

But today I thought I would share a third option with you. I find it to be both personally liberating and, in my mind at least, does have a ring of truth. The premise being that the damage has already been done, it is devastatingly severe, and it is way too late to save anything that we as humans care to think of as the planet. A viewpoint that has a lot more to do with our own precarious place upon it than the survival of life itself. Life will survive. But unfortunately for the human ego once the next 150 to 200 years have passed us by we will probably no longer be a sustainable part of it.

This is the viewpoint of James Lovelock. Who is he? An English gentleman widely revered as the father of climate science. Now in his 90s, he continues to be recognized as one of the great thinkers in his field. A 2008 article in the British paper The Guardian entitled "Enjoy Life While You Can" (click here) describes him this way:

Lovelock has been dispensing predictions from his one-man laboratory in an old mill in Cornwall since the mid-1960s, the consistent accuracy of which have earned him a reputation as one of Britain's most respected - if maverick - independent scientists. Working alone since the age of 40, he invented a device that detected CFCs, which helped detect the growing hole in the ozone layer, and introduced the Gaia hypotheses, a revolutionary theory that the Earth is a self-regulating super-organism. Initially ridiculed by many scientists as new age nonsense, today that theory forms the basis of almost all climate science.

A gentleman scientist who is widely respected in the field of climate science, one recognized today for having developed many original ideas that today are accepted truths in his field. He was right at a time when no one accepted his ideas, and lived to see them all become an accepted part of the ecological canon. Yet his ability to create controversy remains strong.

On the day we meet, the Daily Mail has launched a campaign to rid Britain of plastic shopping bags. The initiative sits comfortably within the current canon of eco ideas, next to ethical consumption, carbon offsetting, recycling and so on - all of which are premised on the calculation that individual lifestyle adjustments can still save the planet. That is, Lovelock says, a deluded fantasy. Most of the the things we have been told to do might make us feel better, but they won't make any difference. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable.

"It's just too late for it," he says. "Perhaps if we'd gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don't have time. All these standard green things, like sustainable development, I think these are just words that mean nothing. I get an awful lot of people coming to me saying you can't say that, because it gives us nothing to do. I say on the contrary, it gives us an immense amount to do. Just not the kinds of things you want to do."

Now the end of the world as we know it might not be the best of news for those of us who are currently a part of it, but Lovelock does assure us that there are still 150 or so years to go. It seems obvious to me that there is no conceivable way that any of us will survive to the time when we won't be able to survive. Plus it does take a lot of the pressure of having to save the world off of our weary shoulders. If it is already too late, then there really isn't much left that we can do. Might as well just go to the movies.

Our Town Inc. - Taking the People's Business Private

That is the title of an article in today's New York Times discussing how they get city government done in Sandy Springs, GA. A town where everything, with the exception of a few essential jobs and services, is done by private companies.

If your image of a city hall involves a venerable building, some Roman pillars and lots of public employees, the version offered by this Atlanta suburb if 94,000 residents is a bit of a shocker.

The entire operation is housed in a generic, one-story industrial park, along with restaurant and a gym. And though the place has a large staff, none are on the public payroll. O.K., seven are, including the city manager. But unless you chance into one of them, the people you meet here work for private companies through a variety of contracts.

To grasp how unusual this is, consider what Sandy Springs does not have. It does not have a fleet of vehicles for road repair, or a yard where the fleet is parked. It does not have long-term debt. It has no pension obligations. It does not have a city hall, for that matter, if your idea of a city hall is a building owned by the city. Sandy Springs rents.

Does the Sandy Springs approach work? It does for Sandy Springs, says the city manager, John F. McDonough, who points not only to the town's healthy balance sheet but also to high marks from residents on surveys about quality of life and quality of government services.

The Police and Fire Departments have remained on the city payroll in Sandy Springs as well. But only because the cost of insuring private services in those two fields is prohibitive. You can access the rest of this article by clicking here.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. Well thank you for that. I was getting tired of lugging those ridiculous cloth sacks back and forth to the supermarket.

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    1. Nah, keep the cloth bags.
      Ban plastic bags, or require the manufacturers to make a bio-degradable kind, and also make the manufacturers chip in to clean up the Pacific Trash Vortex.
      Might as well be good problem solvers whatever our life expectancy.

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  2. We now know the sky is falling, just not when. However, we know we will not be around to watch it. At least, I hope to watch an end to our Police Department. The only thing our police are good for is ticket writing. I have been watching officer "Flat Top" Barry every morning parked out waiting for his next victim. Why do we need a Police Department that is good for only one thing, writing our citizens tickets. Every other function of Policing is subbed out. It make no sense. On top of that I bet the Troll, minions and the Selective Few never receive a ticket. This City is corrupt to the core.

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    1. If you follow the rules of the road, Officer Barry will not write you a ticket. No U-turns into a parking place on S.M. Blvd and Baldwin, and no rolling stops otherwise or speeding on Grandview and you'll be fine. If you think the SM Police shouldn't write tickets or enforce the laws, then why have a police department? I do agree, however that the Sheriff's Dept. could do just as good a job and save the City a good chunk of money from our General Fund.

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  3. Well, if we've only got 150 years left, let's build the high-rise condos on the Howies' lot!

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    1. Hasn't the LLC brigade (also known as the Bart Doyle Ain't Ever Gonna Move because I Can't With All My Money Tied Up In Property Club) been trying to inform us through the Green Commission that condos are to save the world from global warming? Too late for that it seems. I'd say let's just plow it down to the dirt, build corn whiskey stills, and get drunk.

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    2. Good idea. We could make the 4th of July beer garden permanent.

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    3. What? And run against Billy Sullivan's soon to be franchised wine tasting grotto? Nosiree! Too much competition is unChristian.

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    4. Billy's Boozeria is about to be eaten by a large lime green monster called Fresh & Easy.

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    5. 1:34, yes indeed, that will happen. F & E has some of the same booze, snacks and dairy products for much less money.....

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    6. You will be able to taste wine at Fresh & Easy, too. All you'll need to do is unscrew the bottle when no one is looking.

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    7. I see you are unfamiliar with the range of products at your local British Wal Martian store.
      Unless you bring a corkscrew with you, you'll have to smash the neck of the bottle to get it open, thus attracting the attention of the minimum wage earners busting their backs to make the place successful.

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    8. In Altadena right now the residents are up in arms because Walmart is threatening to open a small grocery store there. Here in Sierra Madre a similar outfit is trying to open something like that, and all the usual suspects are just as happy as can be.

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  4. Good. Now I won't have to make credit card payments anymore.

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  5. Devastating climate changes locally, such as extreme heat waves and a lack of water and power, as well as less available food and resources for people, will have a serious impact on us within 10 years. The reduction in living standards and inability to carry on the expected middle-class lifestyles will result in some drastic changes that will make the whining about "individual liberties" look like chump change. Batten down the hatches and keep your birth control handy.

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    1. Nose - I would think that with the collapse of the environment will come a collapse of government as well. Something that would open up exciting new possibilities in personal liberty. Plus with a Fresh & Easy in town we will have all the salty snacks and prepared frozen foods necessary to sustain major societal change.

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    2. Where's the toilet paper?

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    3. Jared Diamond has covered this ground in depressing thoroughness. The populations in the undeveloped nations are all trying to move up, as any of us would. It is no longer politically correct to use these terms, but the 3rd world strives to get into the 2nd world, and the 2nd world strives to get into the 1st, and that's were we're at, the 1st, and the news in the 1st is that the ecosystems of Earth have been irreparably damaged. Maybe it comes down to which of the worlds you would rather die in. The 1st.

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  6. I forgot to take my MindMax this morning. I don't understand any of this.

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    1. It is yet another prediction of the ending of the world.

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    2. Every one is trying to get in on that one. Be a good thing to copyright.

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  7. All this doom and gloom!
    We were going to have to vacate the premises anyway when the sun is cooked.

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  8. It's not so bad. At least now we won't have to build a transit village downtown.

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    1. Will I still be allowed to live in my single family home?

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  9. This week has seen remarkable discoveries from NASA. Water on the moon and water on other planets in our solar system. Human technology from 1977 that still sends data from the edge of our solar system as a craft meets the interstellar boundary. That technology is laugable by today's standards, yet it continues. Space exploration is not done for whimsy. We're looking for new homes.

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  10. Lets see. World's population now @ 3 billion, soon to be 5 billion. And you think the damage has already been done. I.........don't think so!! The only thing to survive is religion with the funny hats and mystic incense.

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    1. The current world population is now over 7 billion. Which is less than the number of every McDonalds hamburger ever served.

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    2. Yes, but a lot of people had more than one.

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    3. where is thomas malthus when you need him?

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  11. Son of NostradamusJune 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Good news everybody! They've discovered water and all the natural resources we could want on other planets! You had better be prepared to get in on the boom. I know our local real estate agents have already booked flights on the most immediate rockets out of town. They sure as hell can't sell properties that don't have any working toilets.

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  12. Directions to the sacrificed youth in the dystopian world of The Hunger Games:
    Run away from the others as fast as you can, and find a source of water.

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  13. There really are "last days" communities, of every persuasion in pockets around the world. They tend to stay away from the cities. It is a truism of the last days that only the strongest and most vicious will survive in the urban areas. They will then branch out to the suburbs.

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  14. I hear the Chamber of Commerce intends to cash in on this with the first annual Sierra Madre Despair Fair. There will be no Santa Claus, but the gourmet food trucks will be back. But in order to capture the mood of the event, they will have no food to serve.

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    1. Interesting. Hopefully it will draw better than some of the recent Wistaria events.

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  15. "Be fruitful and multiply". That ought to get us somewhere!

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    1. It's a good thing "The kingdom of Heaven is within"!

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    2. At least it will be convenient. Instead of going to hell, hell instead will be coming here.

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  16. "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine." - Michael Stipe

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    1. "If I should survive this world without dying, I sure will be surprised."
      Mullah Nasrudin

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    2. "I'm gonna get my kicks before the whole *hithouse goes up in flames"....Jim Morrison

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  17. "Don't worry, be happy!"
    Bobby McFerrin

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  18. "I'll tumble for you."
    - Boy George

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  19. That's some catch, that Catch-22.

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  20. Nothing wrong with conserving our resources,especially water. It's just the right thing to do, but don't expect to save the world. You can't do it from here.

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  21. Don't fall for the Sandy Springs hype. It is called cronyism. I literally live a few minutes up the road from them and there are so many similar insanities happening around here as Sierra Madre.... which is why I am one of your regular readers. You know.... misery loves company... and that sort of thing.

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    1. Best quote from the Sandy Springs profile:
      "People aren't willing to support conditions for public workers that they themselves no longer enjoy."
      Amen!

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