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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 29, 2016

 
The Zika virus, our changing planet & climate mobilization

by Gaius Publius



Former Iowa politician, radio host and climate champion Ed Fallon at a Climate Mobilization protest of an Iowa Trump event (source). There is a Mobilization model caucus on January 29 (see below).


"But at my back I always hear
The climate's wingèd chariot hurrying near."
—with apologies to Andrew Marvell


This piece is about a new virus with no known cure, which originated in the heat and humidity of Central and South America, is spread by mosquitoes, and is moving north as the planet inexorably warms. But this is also about something much more important. The Zika virus is just one instance of which there are dozens — and soon, of which there will be hundreds — all posing sudden and deadly threats to the seven billion people living together on this planet. [UPDATE: The origin of the virus is thought to be either Africa, Asia or French Polynesia, from where it migrated elsewhere, including Central and South America. My thanks for the emailed correction.]

Will the Zika virus takes us all down? Highly unlikely. But one of these days there will be a virus like this, a bacteria, a toxin, that could. We've already created a gene that makes bacteria resistant to the "last resort" antibiotic. We are destabilizing life on this planet at a ferocious and accelerating rate. The reason we're doing it is greed, of course, the greed of a small handful of women and men. But one of the major tools of that destabilization is rapidly and permanently changing climate.

First, a taste of the Zika story. Then, a tool that can stop that tool (click to go there now).

Zika virus foreshadows dystopian climate future

Bill McKibben writes at The Guardian:
The Zika virus foreshadows our dystopian climate future

The mosquito-borne disease shows that pushing the limits of the planet’s ecology has become dangerous in novel ways

I’ve spent much of my life chronicling the ongoing tragedies stemming from global warming: the floods and droughts and storms, the failed harvests and forced migrations. But no single item on the list seems any more horrible than the emerging news from South America about the newly prominent Zika disease.

Spread by mosquitoes whose range inexorably expands as the climate warms, Zika causes mild flu-like symptoms. But pregnant women bitten by the wrong mosquito are liable to give birth to babies with shrunken heads. Brazil last year recorded 4,000 cases of this “microcephaly”. As of today, authorities in Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador and Venezuela were urging women to avoid getting pregnant....
McKibben notes, "Eventually, of course, the disease will reach these shores – at least 10 Americans have come back from overseas with the infection, and one microcephalic baby has already been born in Hawaii to a mother exposed in Brazil early in her pregnancy." We'll likely survive the invasion, since our resources are so great, but many of the poor will not, since most people with the infection have no symptoms. (Watch the video at the link for more.)

To stop climate change, mobilize

The more I read and listen, and the more climate dithering I watch, the more I think "time's wingèd chariot" is almost upon us and we have our backs turned to it. If we knew that, in five or ten years, an asteroid visible to our telescopes today were due to crash into the earth, we'd (a) start mobilizing against it immediately, and (b) not listen to the whiners who ask, "But how are we going to pay for it?" Those whiners would be kicked to the curb, especially if they were well-known worshipers at the "Church of the Giant Asteroid".

Yet here we are, with maybe five to ten years at most to start mobilizing against a world all of us will hate, and ... nothing.

It's an emergency. The response to emergencies to mobilize. And we know how to do that.

So here's an action you can do while you're waiting for others put two and two together. Coming to the Iowa Caucus is a "model caucus" hosted by one of the climate mobilization groups, groups that have put two and two together. The purpose of the model caucus is to
support the presidential candidate they believe is best-suited to stop the Bakken Pipeline and lead a full-employment, WWII-scale mobilization to rapidly retire all fossil fuel infrastructure, drive the U.S. economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and restore a safe climate for humanity.
Care to join them? Care to support them? If you're in Iowa already (caucusing for Bernie Sanders, the most climate-friendly candidate in the field, I hope), you can attend and hear former Senator Tom Harkin and Keystone hero Jane Kleeb speak, and party with others like you. The press release is below.

If you're not in Iowa, or reading this after the event, you can still help. You've put two and two together. You know that the only way to act in an emergency is to marshal all resources and act with all speed — to mobilize. You can help others to see that too. The only way mass mobilization happens is for enough people make a decision to make it happen. That starts with you and your encouragement to everyone you have contact with. Sometimes all it takes for a crowd to act, is for the first person to act. You can be that person in the small crowd you're part of, your group of friends and associates.

About the Iowa event (my emphasis):
MEDIA ADVISORY
11:30 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016
Contact:
Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or FallonForum@gmail.com
Ezra Silk at (860) 916-8964 or Ezra@TheClimateMobilization.org

Iowans to hold Climate Emergency Caucus to push presidential contenders toward WWII-scale climate mobilization

Former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and “Keystone Killer” Jane Kleeb to Speak

DES MOINES — Hundreds of Iowans will stage a model caucus Friday, Jan. 29 to support the presidential candidate they believe is best-suited to stop the Bakken Pipeline and lead a full-employment, WWII-scale mobilization to rapidly retire all fossil fuel infrastructure, drive the U.S. economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and restore a safe climate for humanity.

The caucus will take place from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Central Campus at 1800 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. Speakers will include Tom Harkin, a U.S. Senator from Iowa from 1985 to 2015, and Jane Kleeb, the Nebraska activist who fired up the national effort to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline and was subsequently dubbed the “Keystone Killer” by Rolling Stone, will speak. The caucus will be hosted by Ed Fallon, the Iowa progressive talk-show host and former state lawmaker who hosted the 2011 Occupy Des Moines People’s Caucus that aired on C-SPAN and received national media attention.

With representatives from all of the Democratic campaigns scheduled to appear, the Climate Emergency Caucus is set to be the strongest intervention into presidential politics yet made by America’s nascent “Climate Emergency Movement,” which calls for WWII-scale emergency action to save civilization from catastrophic climate change and ecological decline. The model caucus has been organized by the national grassroots group The Climate Mobilization, in conjunction with a growing list of sponsors, including Citizens’ Climate Lobby Des Moines, Iowa 350.org, Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter.

Following speeches from Fallon, Kleeb, and the leaders of The Climate Mobilization, model caucus-goers will suggest climate and pipeline planks for their respective political party’s platforms and discuss the presidential candidates’ positions on the Bakken pipeline and climate change. Finally, they will break into preference groups to support the presidential candidate they believe can best lead America through the growing climate emergency. ...

Fallon and the growing climate emergency movement expect the caucus will make clear to the presidential candidates and the American public that the time for “carbon gradualism” has expired and the need for emergency action to save civilization has arrived.
More here.

If you're not yet convinced, no problem. You soon will be (and the rest of us hope that it's not too late when you are).

But if you are convinced, act. Pledge to support mobilization, then support it. You may think you have just a little reach, but that's true of us all. We're only responsible for doing what we can do, but we are responsible for that.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP




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