Bill McKibben: “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math“
Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about global warming way back in 1989, and since I’ve spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we’re losing the fight, badly and quickly — losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.
When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn’t yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious — our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless — position with three simple numbers.
Amy Sullivan: “What Obama Needs to Know Before Meeting Rick Warren Again“
Obama should consider that Warren either lied about his plans for the 2008 forum or bowed to pressure from other conservatives regarding the topics up for discussion. In the week before the earlier event, Warren told Time’s David van Biema that his questions would center on four areas: poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change, and human rights. “There is no Christian religious test,” said Warren.
The night of forum, however, Warren stuck to a more conservative script, quizzing the candidates about gay marriage, judges, and abortion — and only briefly touching on poverty and climate change.
It’s been said that Green Lantern is the most powerful character in the DC Comics universe because he is limited only by his will. … Batman, as we’ve seen, has no such limitations. His wealth enables him to defeat Superman through synthesizing Kryptonite. I don’t know if he’s fought Green Lantern, but in the most recent incarnation of the Justice League comic he’s removed the ring from Hal Jordan’s finger without him noticing. Batman needs no magic ring to manifest his will, he just buys stuff. Does he need to fly? He buys a jet. Does he need to bend metal? Wayne Industries has an experimental construction power suit that does just that. Does he need a giant supercomputer installed in an underground cavern? Money gets the job done. Batman buys his way to success, and since the wealth is unlimited, so is the success.
… His only restrictions are ones he places on himself. Super-wealth gives him the option to choose what he will and won’t do. In a similar, yet smaller-scale manner, I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. I could, there’s one nearby, but I choose not to, because I don’t like the company or its practices. However, I know that I can only make this choice because I’m in a comfortable financial position; most poorer people simply can’t afford not to shop there. Batman plays by rules and follows them religiously, but they are rules of his own making. This is another advantage of the super-wealthy.
… [Lex] Luthor is evil Batman. He’s got the same resources and the same abilities, but unlike Batman, he has not chosen to play by the rules. In the comic book world, this means Luthor doesn’t win, which is why the comic book world is described as “escapism.” In the world as it is, there are far more Luthors than Batmen, and they win far more often.