I discreetly followed the proceedings of the Republican Party convention in the United States this past week. (Know thy enemy, eh?) The things they say and believe and promote – it's like they're from another planet, one without poor people or ecological limits. It truly does seem as though money and American hegemony are more important to them than life. (Cue gnashing of teeth sound effects.)
After bouncing around the blogosphere a bit, I had a sudden revelation! I ran upstairs to bounce it off my husband, who had just had his own epiphany. Together, we have worked it out. Not solved it, mind you. Just figured it out.
And here's how "it" goes*:
If the powers-that-be in the United States admit to the global climate change emergency and their role in it, their citizens will start clamouring (or clamoring, I guess) for the government to get going on solutions. And that will entail spending some money. Where will that money be diverted from? Subsidies we give, directly and indirectly, to fossil fuel corporations? The Pentagon and its odious and sometimes illegal military operations? The CIA and its odious and mostly shadowy doings around the world?
Now, why would that be considered a bad thing, given that most people would say they prefer peace? Well, the USA has to maintain its place as the world's fossil fuel superpower. And the only way to do that these days is through military force and might (with a whole whack of lies and deceit and mercenaries and wagging the dog thrown in, to make "the game" more fun, I suppose; take Libya and Syria as examples – contact me if you don't understand what I'm alluding to).
Okay, but why does the USA have to remain the global head honcho when it comes to fossil fuels? Because it depends on the fact that the American dollar is the world's petro-currency. The only internationally approved currency for buying oil is the American dollar. (Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafi were trying to change that, and look what happened to them! Check out this October 2009 article by Robert Fisk in the Independent, The Demise of the Dollar, for more info.) On the other hand, people can pay for wind turbines and solar panels with any currency they want! So if fossil fuels go down, and the USA isn't bringing in billions (trillions?) of dollars in petro-dollars every year, then it will go down too, completely bankrupt.
So, when I complain that American conservatives (of both Republican and Democratic ilk) think money is more important to them than life, it's true, they do. Because they realize, whether intellectually or viscerally, that the "greatest" nation on Earth is built on a fossil-fuel-dependent house of cards. All the money that floats around the USA – and buys the 1% their mansions and yachts and Hummers – comes from that country's special fossil-fuelled status.
Ergo, perhaps the solution lies in helping small communities see that their resilience no longer lies in the security provided by a nation, but will come from their working together at the local level to build soil, grow food, collect rainwater, and generate energy from perpetual sources.
The USA has to deny climate change not only because of its dependence on fossil fuels, but also because of its dependence on fossil fuel dollars. Perhaps the sovereign nation state and the American dream are ideas whose time has passed.
* With apologies to those who have known this all along.