Curtain Raiser

Something Else Missing in the Storm, Colltalers

As shocking images of the devastation the Typhoon Haiyan start to hit newswires around the world, igniting a number of predictable reactions both charitable and patronizing, we’re confronted with the inevitability that these kinds of catastrophic natural disasters have become ever so common.
But even though we’ll be well primed in the coming days about its multiplying casualties, the miserable path of destruction it’s carved on the Philippines and the dire predictions for other Southeast Asian countries on its path, something crucial has already been missing by the media coverage of it.
The reason why this is happening with increased frequency, and how come it’s not the focus of daily investigative efforts to find the solution, has again been buried in the weather forecast-like, almost business-as-usual reporting, which tends to highlight the effect and hide the cause.
That’s by design, by the way, make no mistake about it. And some media outlets are fully aware of it. Earlier this year, the Guardian, for one, published a report about Donors Trust, a secretive organization that has invested a staggering amount of money funding climate change denying.
To boost thinktanks and activist groups’ anti-science message, and sway coverage about environmental issues, the trust has given away $30 million in 2010 alone, which, the report says, dwarfs even notorious funders of climate change denying such as ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers.
By sponsoring a constant flow of talking head ‘experts,’ and spinning misleading information about changing weather patterns, no fault of our heavy reliance on carbon fuels, of course, and nothing to worry about, really, the trust and other groups have managed to set a tenor for the coverage.
It’s virtually impossible to gather the causes of why this is happening and what can be actually done in order to prevent them from happening again, amid the cascade of gory stats on how many are dead or dispossessed, how humongous is the storm, and, yes, granted, how Americans can help.
Not all of them do, though. As it goes, deniers in positions of power have often displayed a callous approach to victims of disasters of great magnitude, as it happened when the Bush administration faced the unspeakable damage Hurricane Katrina was inflicting on their own constituency.
They let them rot for several days, and the president himself only touched the ground in New Orleans nearly two weeks after the storm. But the fact is that, however nations deal with the aftermath of a disaster has little to do with what should be done in a more structural level to prevent them.
Storms and hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis are bound to happen, regardless of human action. But the increased frequency of some of them can indeed be prevented if we’re willing to treat them as consequences of an overriding pattern and attack their causes before they get out of hand.
We hate to break the news, but according to many scientists, that has already happened. They may have a point if one thinks of 2012, for instance, the hottest year on record in the U.S., and oddly, one of the coldest globally. That may be the norm from now on, rather than the exception.
One last seemingly puzzling thing about those billionaire deniers. It’s hard enough, but absolutely conceivable that big oil companies are heavily invested in denying the effects of carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases, by-products of their, well, product, on the environment.
After all, for over a century, such corporations have defined and imprinted the very core of our progress as civilization with their goods, amassing in the process a stultifying level of power and wealth. But then again, one can always go back to that old workhorse: corporations are not people.
With due respect to the sick, they grow like cancer, and their myriad of ramifications reach out to and envelop every human endeavor on this planet. As a business, they’re as impersonal and ruthless as a parasitic fungus growing from inside out of a tree. It won’t stop until the tree is dead, and then, if it can, it will move on to the next and the next, until the whole forest will be leveled. No regrets and no possible ‘humane’ arguments here.
But to understand why an elderly billionaire, or rather, a group of stratospherically rich old men, would be oblivious to the nefarious consequences of their efforts, going out of their way to make sure millions of people won’t have any way out of a chocking, toxic planet, is another matter.
In fact, it’d be unfathomable to picture how these patriarchs of vast empires deal with their ever growing number of relatives, little children, that is, and whether they even think about the world their own blood will be forced to live in as a result of their unstoppable drive to increase profits.
It’d be if it weren’t for two reasons, though. First, they have 20, 30 tops, years left to live, which could give them a ‘devil may care’ mentality, even though that’d be the exception: the majority of their peers would rather achieve a sense of wisdom about the relativity of time as they grow older.
So, that’s a matter of spiritual maturity, whatever that actually means, that they, obviously, lack. And the other reason, which ironically show their senility, is that to invest in measures to prevent, or at least, minimize climate change would be much more profitable in the long run, than to deny it.
For if we’re to survive the next 50 years (some scientists are already cutting that window way shorter), we must find a way to capture, recycle, transform, and ultimately conquer the lethal gases we’ve been sending to the ar we breathe, before they literally choke us to death.
That would spell a business opportunity in a planetary scale that would overshadow any of the enterprises these stubborn devils have managed to turn them into the zillionaires they are. Then again, we know nothing about how their minds work, so that could be a moot point as well.
By now, you know that to invoke words such as redemption, or expect some kind of rapture-like realization of their wrong ways is not only not Colltales style but would be something downright unbelievable. Most likely these old bats will died peacefully, with no remorse, and yes, richer.
As for Haiyan, it may sound insensitive to pontificate and preach about its causes, while by the latest estimates, it has already taken tens of thousands of lives. It does sound callous as well, for if you’re in the thick of it, how good it is that someone is even talking about causes?
But all we ask is that you keep an eye on the kind of coverage we get about these cataclysms, as they happen, and how the same familiar pundits do their utmost to divert attention from the fact that here we are, once again, ever more often, talking about a monster we have no defense against.
See how easy it is to get lost in the minutia of disconcerting facts, and the arcana of ‘human stories,’ and the dollar figure of the costs, and the global efforts to aid the victims, to the point of forgetting that we are, indeed, the only ones to blame for what’s happening. Have a great week. WC


One thought on “Curtain Raiser

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Well said, all of it. I actually didn’t realise it took the president two weeks to touch down in Katrina. TWO WEEKS. I’d be inclined to snub him by then.

    Yes, that devil may care attitude – I’m sure that’s it. I personally have ALWAYS felt that money/rich isn’t a bad thing, but if your spoils are created by damage to this Earth, to the human race, to animals – foul, I do not want it.


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