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There’s a Fever in the Valley

by SAUL LANDAU

Climate change seems to have exacerbated the stupidity of U.S. daily life, or maybe we’ve long suffered from the consequences of the capitalist mode of production, plus the negative spin offs from the massive U.S. war machine. Both systems feed off nature, which cannot sustain their demands on it. For example, both systems emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas that gets burned in production and war, and gets pumped into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities. Trapped gases lead to climate change.

Recent scientific findings discovered 400 parts per million of CO2 (carbon dioxide) – a first in human history. The findings presented all conscious beings with “a moment of symbolic significance on the road of idiocy”: Wake up to the alarm bell ringing about urgent climate action, or screw the future generations. This CO2 climate changing concentration has increased its levels every year since scientists, more than five decades ago, started measuring their levels on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. And, Science Daily reported, the rate of increase has accelerated since the measurements started, from about 0.7 parts per million per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year during the last 10 years.

This new threshold represents capitalism’s supreme capacity to shit in the plate it eats from (Nature). But it also seems to have formed of a kind of global shell around human consciousness, as if those in leadership daydream when faced with the issue of runaway greenhouse gas emissions. “Why should I think about it? Let the next generations deal with it,” they conclude. Our modern Cassandra, Al Gore wrote that “we are reaping the consequences of our recklessness.”

Those who need to take initiatives, Obama and leaders of the other mass-producing and mass consuming areas, have lacked both the imagination and courage to press for massive change in the production system. History books – the last ones written – will describe them as examples of failures at even trying to prevent the end of human history.

Could they not imagine a world where massive energy consumption gets reduced? Where all life does not revolve around the spiritual value of shopping for things?

Sometimes stories about real people’s suffering can snap the comatose out of their cranial seal. A California woman just suffered abrupt and negative life slides as a result of climate change. Can this anecdote alert a larger public?

Valley fever, not what Los Angeles teenagers suffer in their sophomore year, is the disease that left “Candice Steed …peering at her mother through a hospital room window in California. Federal public health officials say valley fever, potentially lethal …infecting more and more people across the nation, has been on the rise as a warming climate and drought have kicked up the dust that spreads it.

“The fever has hit California’s agricultural heartland particularly hard in recent years, with the incidence dramatically increasing in 2010 and 2011. The disease – which is prevalent in arid regions of the United States, Mexico, Central and South America – can be contracted by breathing in fungus-laced spores from dust disturbed by the wind as well as human or animal activity.”

The fungus, sensitive to environmental changes, experts say, and a hotter, drier climate has increased the dust carrying the spores. California and federal public health officials say that valley fever, a potentially lethal …disease infecting more and more people across the nation, has been on the rise as a warming climate and drought have kicked up the dust that spreads it. AP reported an 850 percent spike in cases across the country from 1998 to 2011, with California and Arizona suffering the most cases.”

Such dire news paralleled Republican voters re-electing, for a House seat, former Governor Mark Sanford who made the Appalachian Trail synonymous with adultery. Valley fever outbreaks, however, have not altered millions of Americans’ conviction that Obama is an African-born socialist Muslim, or that communists foisted the UN onto America to destroy its freedom.

This state of global denial, or political stupidity, has also come to identify our age of disregard for the laboratories that make new energy-burning gadgets to enhance patterns of consumption. Comparatively little investment goes into areas designed to rescue human life from the buildup of the gases lodged in the atmosphere by the growth-compulsion syndrome attached to consumption. We participate in climate change activities – including early death from climate-change provoked disease – but “red” states’ populations still deny and even label this massive global shift as “liberal propaganda.”

Republicans have become as vulnerable as Democrats to some results of climate change. Another valley fever victim, Bernadette Madrid 29, says “the disease has left her blind, and the drugs prescribed to fight it have destroyed her kidneys.“ Karen Werts said, “I have lost two years of my life to valley fever and now live with these constant fears in the back of my mind.

On January 9, 2001, Cheryl Youngblood lost her “big, strong healthy husband of 30 years, Michael to valley fever. He died at age 49, “a 144-pound shell of his former self,” she said.

The spike in valley fever contagion and related climate-caused infirmities will grow around the world, but will they help diminish the importance of trivia in our political pursuits? In the face of planetary disaster, a Republican Party faction in North Dakota recently passed the nation’s most severe anti-abortion law, declaring a fertilized human egg to have the same right to life as a fully formed person.

Other headlines show more reliance on drone wars, complain of holding up government appointments, and reveal daily political corruption side by side with “news” of celebrity marriage, divorce and rehab,” the pettiness of which does not relate to impending global tragedy.

Scientists affirmed that climate change threatens future life. Some prophesize doom if we do not reform, but Apollo’s curse remains. “Beware of technology burning energy” might replace the warning of “Greeks bearing gifts.” Inside the new Trojan horse of development lies the mechanism that will doom our heirs, unless we make drastic reforms now – especially here and in China where the most greenhouse gasses get produced.

Citizens need to make their own history by acting and forcing leaders to deal with climate change before it gets too late.

Saul Landau’s film PAUL JACOBS AND THE NUCLEAR GANG –with Jack Willis — warned the public of nuclear negligence in 1980.

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

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