Public Comment

Jobs and Climate Change

By R.G.Davis, PhD
Tuesday August 17, 2010 - 01:07:00 PM

A particularly onerous obstacle to any lowering levels of atmospheric pollution CO2, CO, methane, nitrous oxide, CFCs, aerosols and black soot into the air leading to any reduction of effects on climate intensity, avoidance of sea level rise, ecological flora and fauna protection and saving habitat for humans is the use of the term “jobs.” 

Jobs (not Steve but work) is used as a disguise for continued corporate pollution and profitable waste to prevent environmental protection or acknowledgement that social change must occur to make any dent in the ineluctable one or two degree Celsius increase from climate forces that will cause all sorts of damage. We now see droughts and fires in Russia, the Gulf pollution, Pakistan floods, and intensity of hurricanes arriving along with sea level rise, glacial melt and that wonderful variable factor “feedback response” in which different aspects unite to increase the intensity of all the above. Climate change is a current topic of journalistic fumbling while the greenwashers will prevail in the US. 

However. the subject is not made of one issue, or simplistic fixes. The intrinsic contradictions within the system persist and remain obstacles to any effective response. It wants to destroy its own resources. It would be helpful to cite the duplicity being used to continue marching to the tune of Obama-hope and green-entrepreneurs. 

When General Motors wanted to obtain bailout funds from Obama’s economic advisors, Geither and Summers, they said “Jobs! GM is here to protect jobs.” While Union members prayed for GM, the corporation was loaned $50 billion to revive GM’s machinery to produce cars that pollute in the making and the running and in the replacing. In 2008-9 when the auto industry only made 12 million private autos, fewer people died in crashes and destruction and pollution was reduced. When they ramped up to 15 million cars, providing more jobs, more people died, more pollution was created. Recently E. Whitacre Chief of GM, a major producer of military vehicles, said, “We want the government out, period.” He aims to return the $50 billion since the Treasury owns 61% of GM. ( NY Times. Aug 6,10: B1) Will GM hire more workers and produce more cars to produce more pollution resulting in more dead, injured drivers and pedestrians? And where do the older cars go, into what dump site? 

Had the Obama funds been devoted to public transportation buses, trains, jitneys, tricycles, skateboards, roller skates, walking sticks, hiking boots it would have saved thousands of lives, provided different jobs and produced less pollution and incidentally lowered the carbon footprint of the auto industry. The bailout of GM doesn’t mean that the autoworkers will obtain improved wages, health benefits or better working conditions. A United Auto Worker member who used to make $34 an hour now gets only $24 an hour while recent hired get less. Auto factories in the South are often non-union and the pay is closer to $15 an hour. 

In the BP case, Gulf state governors Democrats and Republicans all agree to keep drilling – drilling leads to oil spills before during and after, leaks, or blowouts, gushers, polluting burn offs, dribbles, dumps, and waste discarded into the waters. BP is “beyond oil” but still into pollution, all to keep jobs! BP and other oil corporations demand to lift the ban on deep-water drilling along with thousands of workers who make good money, followed by all the equipment providers, retailers and communities that fish part time and oil rig half time. 

The odd element here, called false consciousness, is when the shrimpers assist in the opening of deep water drilling which in turn inevitably poisons the fish habitat, and the water column. Perhaps the hydrocarbon and dispersant diet the shrimp ingest will increase their color for sale. However, reading closer, a number of resort supply houses are importing fish from outside the Gulf. 

Wetlands soaked in oil are not in the adverts BP places in the NY Times and the WS Journal, rather pictures of crews cleaning up oil blobs on beaches. How misfocused are those full page adverts when the significant ecological food producing areas are the wetlands, the delta, the coral reefs, the water column – all less visible but more important even to tourismo. “Phytoplankton ala BP Gusher oil” must be on someone’s Fish Menu. 

Meanwhile Obama announced it was “all right to fish” in the Gulf. In all sections? Fishing organizations want an outside examination of the hydrocarbons and dispersants in the water column. Where did the 

un-accounted 2.5 billion barrels of oil go? 

The Gulf, like many bodies of water around the US, has been a dumping ground for military waste, ship ballast and runoff from agribusiness toxic pesticides, as the Mississippi delta has been. The Gulf waters heaves up and the pollution up-she-rises (old folk song) yet the workers join with BP leading the racket to damn and deny ecological matters. “Forget next year, we want jobs now.” 

And so 10,000 voters tell their governors who tell their Senators to tell Obama, lift the drill-moratorium on deep water sites, ignoring and denying that the pollution kills not only the fish-bird-fish-food web, but the first recipients are workers who breath in toxic air pollutants, or die in blow outs, as the great energy/profit search endangers a whole ecological system. The workers in or out of unions demand to be exploited (paid well), while industry (in this case Halliburton, Transocean, plus BP) exploits all within touch, or breath. 

One factor more (and the greatest obstacle to any US reduction of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide (ozone depleters) leading to increased warming) is the US military with its Pentagon budget of $700 billion a year (ever rising) and connections to every state in the Union. Each state receives a cut for production of weapons,therefore Senators vote for the stimulating military package, despite the pollution created in manufacturing and the use of vehicles, helicopters, airplanes with ecological damage visited upon other countries, populations, even the US soldiers who use Depleted Uranium, or breathe in the wonders of “Open Burn-Pit” fires in Iraq and Afghanistan. (NYT Aug. 7, 10: A10) 

I have been doing research on the ecological damage the US military is responsible for, so I could use data to backup my statement that the “US military is the worst ecological disaster devised by the US Empire.” I had to work that sentence over a few times. 

“The worst ecological disaster is the military and its wars.” Or, 

“The Military is the worst ecological disaster of the Empire.” Or, 

“Capitalist Militarism is the worst example of ecological damage.” 

I haven’t found a satisfactory sentence to include just enough without making it sound apocalyptic. But I did find a good story whose last line was key. “Old Weapons Off Hawaii Should Stay Put, Army says. Honolulu. (NYT Aug l, 10: 19). Chemical weapons dumped in deep water five miles south of Pearl Harbor after World War II should remain at the site because moving them could pose more of a threat to people and the environment, the Army says.” [Nine paragraphs later] “The military used the ocean as a dumping ground for munitions from 1919 to 1970.” [1919?] 

I found this on August 6th__ Hiroshima day.