Friday, April 23, 2010

Death and Politics at the end of the world

In my "spare" time, I continue to work on my long term project "Death and Politics at the End of the World"-- it's slow going and at times I wonder just what the point is. After all, when I write on my blog, I post it and it's there for all to see for all who care to see. Blogging is simpler- an essay here, a picture there- a public journal if you will. Hours are not spent choosing distinct phrasing or lyrical description- it is a quick way to communicate the blurbs of the mind and if one is a decent writer, it will appear somewhat thought out even when it isn't. My larger project, in contrast, can take me hours or even the entire day to work out a sentence, or a paragraph, if I am having a wildly prolific day. If I so chose, I could network and attempt to gather readers- twitter my day at work with tidbits of my witty wit to entice readers to the larger task that is call My Blog. Alas, I have none of the ambitions to be a blogging star nor is the limited format of daily posts really adequate to inspire my creative juices. But it is useful and fun and provides a format for topics which I am not really interested in writing an article about let alone a book. The title of my fiction piece however has a tone to it that relates to events that I felt compelled to comment on here on my blog-- even if it's posterity remains only in the Blogoverse.

In my fictional piece, death and politics meet the end of the world in a sometimes hilarious, other times dark and confusing, romp through Key West. The underlying thread that holds the pieces together is a Quantum gaze at what reality might look like IF Quantum physics were relateable in the non-quantum world. Metaphorically, that is. It is not, in any way, and attempt to recreate the scientific world of the quantum wildness. And to define what is being done in D & P is to put it in too a limited a sphere or in a defineable space. I am not sure I do it justice in the explanation. But to move on to the "real" world, death (or life or humanity) and politics combine to create a whole new weirdness that seems as unstable and undefinable as the quantum world itself.

Having worked in public schools, we talk at length about the education and the problems therein in our house. I have an In Progress blog that is linked at the top of the page that is dedicated to the subject of The Problems in Education. It will take some time to complete the essay because the problems are vast and deep and there are no simple solutions though we often try to say there is. I also spend some time writing and following the political landscape where healthcare and finance reform are the topics of the day. I occasionally dip a toe into pointing out headlines of abuse such as the headline about the elderly gay couple. But these topics seem to move past pale to white then luminesce when placed alongside the the issue of Global chaos and our environmental destruction.

As scientists continue to reveal data they've collected and the results they've obtained, it's clear that our planet is on a trajectory that is inconsistent with the Business As Usual attitude that continues to prevail. In fact it is inconsistent with the ongoing habitation of humanity in general. As water levels rise (one island has already made like the Titanic) and snow caps disappear, Earth Day and the modest changes that accompany it (for the day) seems like a dram of water offered to the beached whale. Way too little way too late. And proposals that are coming from Washington and the private sector (read: the All Good, All Loving, Corporate Hierarchy) continues to be largely symbolic over substantive change.

So on we go, sliding down the slippery slopes of no baby to throw out with any bathwater, our planet reminding us as often as possible that change is imminent and we are mere travelers here who may be cast aside and as extinct as Homo rhodesiensis at any moment. Add to that the compelling evidence that we are using up our planets resources (at least the ones we are capable of consuming). A military think tank has just released it's biannual report called the Joint Operation Environment (JOE) in which they discuss security threats on every level. In the report there is no doubt that we are headed toward an energy shortage. In fact it is a given that shortages are inevitable. Much of the information was, by all accounts, largely the same as the last report in 2008 EXCEPT the role that energy will play in defining how the military will plan for future operations. 

Energy fuels more than our cars. We ship food, clothes, toys, makeup, materials for our homes, etc. As prices go up, we will have less and less. And all this coming at a time when Americans are making less and more of us are unemployed with no job creation anywhere near the horizon. In fact it seems that job creation is part of the civilian casualty in a changing economy. The report goes on to say,“A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity” (p. 28). To add to the urgency, it restates its 2008 warning, “By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 MBD” (p. 29). This warning is consistent with others which have been issued during the past 18 months" The author of the review goes on to point out, the "two “next questions” which are as obvious as they are vital:- How might a global supply crunch affect oil exports? and- How can governments best prepare for and administer a liquid fuel emergency? Both issues require immediate and thorough examination, regardless of how close we are to peak oil."

Unaddressed by the reviewer but the basic point of the JOE in the first place is the dangling question of how the military will respond, both in preparation for such shortages and as shortages occur. It dawns on me, as I consider the very purpose of this document, that the military feels it is necessary to prepare for action on those fields which they feel might threaten American interests- whether foreign or domestic. American interests are deeply entrenched with where oil is and who might be competing with us for these Resources whether they be Iraq, Iran, Russia, China.... The initial plan will undoubtedly be to keep the baby fed. In other words, the plan will be to keep control of the oil for American consumption and I might add for the military. It is estimated that the military itself uses 30% of oil consumption in the U.S. Eventually, demand will exceed production and the reality IS that Americans are accustomed to consuming. We have become spoiled with a gluttony of just about everything we think we want. When shortages come, the disgruntlement we see among Tea-Partiers and the Militia of discontent will amount to more than a hill of beans to stir up further antagonisms among those who are less involved with politics but are more involved with their familial economics. 

It seems that troubled times lay ahead and unfortunately most of us are ill prepared for the difficulties which lie in front of us- let alone the end of the world (at least as we know it). 

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