Earth Day is fast upon us, and rather than crank out yet another primal scream of dismay, I have chosen (lazy me) to dredge the archives for crunchy nuggets of eco-wisdom past. They do say it’s virtuous to recycle.
Earth Day: The Remix

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something,” ecologist Kenneth Watt declared to a Swarthmore College audience on April 19, 1970.
In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….
Harvard biologist George Wald estimated [in 1970] that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

At least their hearts were in the right place. Still are, actually…

September 14, 2006 A leading U.S. climate researcher says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe.
NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check…
“I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change … no longer than a decade, at the most…”

Ain’t that a pisser? We’re doomed again. Still doomed. Doomed on stilts, for pity’s sake. But, can someone tell me what’s up with this “widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers” bit?
Is this even true? Widely considered by whom? Where could you go to verify such a claim?
It passeth my meager understanding. Best we just move on.

A Good Day To Recycle

Wherein our favorite peak oil profiteer, James Howard Kunstler, gifts an interviewer with his usual, calmly reasoned thoughts…

Mark Maynard: I can appreciate your pessimism, and, generally speaking, I share it, but do you think that yours is a message that will motivate people to change their behaviors? Are you so convinced that efforts to stop what is coming will be futile that you don’t feel as though we should even try? Might it not be better to offer a chance for success, rally people together, and go out swinging?
James Kunstler: I resent the hell out of being labeled a “pessimist.” In my writings, I offer a comprehensive view of how we can respond intelligently to these new circumstances. That’s neither pessimistic nor cynical. So fuck you.

Slightly off topic, but still oh-so-satisfying. Truly, he is the gift that keeps on giving.

Merry Earth Day Mr. Kunstler

Kunstler got a rock-star reception last week at Middlebury College, where he entertained a standing-room-only audience with provocative predications about where our unbridled consumption is likely to land us. An eloquent, funny speaker who is not afraid to use the f-word, Kunstler agreed to a follow-up email interview with Seven Days.

They’ve had three years to outgrow him. I’m beginning to doubt that’ll be enough.
Still, hope springs eternal

Check all of your assumptions at the door,” James Howard Kunstler advises reporters before he commences an interview. “Don’t assume that anything you think about the way we live today is going to be the same 10, five, even three years from now.”

That was back in May, 2005. Cripes, we’ve only got seven years to go. Or maybe just a couple of weeks. Those nice clean fusion generators can’t get here too soon.
I’m so troubled, I’d even settle for nice (less) clean fission plants. It’s not like we’d need to use them forever, is it?

Take a good look at America around you now, because when we emerge from the winter of 2005 – 6, we’re going to be another country. The reality-oblivious nation of mall hounds, bargain shoppers, happy motorists, Nascar fans, Red State war hawks, and born-again Krispy Kremers is headed into a werewolf-like transformation that will reveal to all the tragic monster we have become…
There are two things that the newspapers and TV Cable News outfits are not covering very well. One is that the Port of New Orleans is not functioning, with poor prospects for a quick recovery, and with it will go much of the Midwestern grain harvest.
Another thing that has fallen off the radar screen is the damage done to the oil and gas infrastructure around the Gulf Coast, especially the onshore facilities for storing and transporting stuff, and for marshaling the crews and equipment to fix stuff. The US is going to run short of its customary supplies for a long time. The idea that these things will not affect an economy of ceaseless mobility is not realistic…
By October, the hurricane season will be ending and the stock market crash season will be underway. It is hard to imagine that companies like WalMart really believe they will keep their profits up when their customers are paying twice as much as they did a year ago to heat their houses and fill their gas tanks.

It’s been three years now, and WalMart is still with us. Hmmm.
Have yourselves a happy Earth Day. I sure will.