Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I am obviously not the only one depressed...

Just read a scary (although nothing I didn't know, or haven't thought about) essay about the failure of the G8 -- everything from global warming spiraling out of control to nuclear war:

The heads of the richest nations could not agree to keep global warming this side of two degrees centigrade, and despite Vladimir Putin pledging to point his nukes at European cities once again, they didn’t even talk about reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world. This means that the odds of mankind making it out of the next few centuries alive just shrank a little bit more.

This sounds, at first glance, hysterical, I know. What’s three degrees of warming? A little extra sunscreen and a new pair of Gucci sunglasses, surely. But the overwhelming scientific evidence tells us something very different. The maximum figure of two degrees of warming on the global thermostat was not plucked randomly by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor who tried to drag the other leaders towards it. No - it is calculated by virtually all the world’s scientists to be the threshold beyond which our planet’s fragile natural systems will begin to unravel rapidly .

The environmentalist Mark Lynas pores through the scientific studies to explain why in his new book, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. The Amazon rainforest has no resistance to fire, because it is constantly humid. If the world hits three degrees of warming, that humidity dries out - and the Amazon, the lungs of the earth, burns to the ground. Without the Amazon acting as a vast carbon sink, the world gets warmer still, rising to four degrees. This causes the Siberian peat-bogs to melt and burp out their massive store of methane into the atmosphere. This pushes us up to five degrees - and on.

Once we hit six degrees, we reach humanity’s end-game, played out on an unrecognisable planet scarred by crop failure. The last time the world warmed by this much was 251 million years ago. The result was that 95 per cent of everything on earth died. The only survivors were a pig-like creature called Lysotorous, who had the land to himself for the next 50 million years, and a few clams in the oceans.

Staying this side of two degrees is the most urgent cause of our time. But why couldn’t we even get agreement on that?

Excellent essay, but it didn't do much for my gloomy mood tonight. You know, the Mayan calendar is supposed to just run out, end, kaboom, in 2012. And some other calendar... the Hopi maybe? I'm beginning to wonder if we'll even make it that far. Every day feels iffy.

Another long-term threat - just as serious, if less discussed today - was even more neglected at the G8. The response from Western publics to Putin’s nuclear threats was mostly bemused: didn’t the mushroom cloud disappear in the rubble of the Berlin Wall? In fact, in the short period since the fall of Soviet tyranny, there has been at least one time when their nukes were very nearly fired.

One morning in January 1995, Boris Yeltsin was awoken from an alcoholic stupor to be told that the United States had fired a nuclear missile at Russia and he must immediately retailate. It turned out the Russian computers were on the blink - a perrennial problem, given the gradual decomposition of the bits of the Soviet nuclear arsenal that have not been stolen. This mistake was only realised at the last moment, just before Yeltsin gave the order to incinerate millions.

The dangers of nuclear exchanges - accidental or deliberate - are multiplying across the globe, as hot-spots turn into Cold Wars. It is only four summers since Britain told its citizens to evacuate India and Pakistan because they were so close to a nuclear war. Even today, there is no nuclear hotline between the rival powers, and Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf is on the brink of being toppled - to be replaced by … who? If these two countries alone exchanged their nuclear arsenals, there is evidence suggesting there would be a nuclear winter, blocking out the sun’s rays and killing us all.

Far from draining the nuclear pressure, the Bush administration is perversely ramping it up. The current moves towards a nuclear missile shield have been misrepresented. No such shield could ever work against incoming nukes, as every test has shown. But what it can do is shoot down non-US satellites. Satellites are now essential for military communications; if you can take them out at will, you have massive and unrivalled power. That’s why Putin is asserting his own power in response, and why Bush will decline his offer of a shared base. The Bush administration is choosing to increase its own power, even if the cost is an increase in nuclear danger.

Dear God: what is wrong with these people? Has everyone lost their minds? Just seven years ago it seemed the entire world was celebrating - together -at the dawn of the new Millennium. We were so happy then. What went so terribly wrong?

Oh, I remember. Bush.

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