Also read at counterpunch.org
Over the course of the past year I have flown from Oakland to Seattle numerous times. On those trips I have always considered AmTrak’s Coast Starlight service as an option. The trip via tracks connecting Oakland to Seattle goes through beautiful landscapes in northern California and into the Cascades of Oregon and Washington. On those trips I also considered the carbon footprint of the options, which is more environmentally friendly, train or plane? But after those considerations I realized my thought was so 2008. The big question is who cares and why and they don’t.
The most obvious answer is the Great Recession and its continued assault on the global economy. It seems the economic power moguls, politicians, and in turn the media, are more interested in bringing the economy back to where it was, rather than forging ahead with a new economy that doesn’t inherently generate climate and market chaos.
Yet, on many terms the movement to combat climate change became a huge success, while as of right now it’s a huge failure. What started as only a scientific concern among climatologists, environmentalists and a niche group of politicians globally, exploded into arguably one of the biggest issue of the past decade, at least when terrorism and economic collapse weren’t making headlines. Yes, Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” with mainstream distribution gave the issue a national awareness it lacked before 2006. But Gore also helped solidify the ideological lines of the concern and domestically turned it into a Democrat and Republican debate. There was also the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina that gave the idea of a climate in flux a sense of immediacy. But the real tragedy of Katrina was political not environmental, the government got away with what amounts to ethnic cleansing by not allowing a third of the New Orleans black population to return to the city.