Cruising to cataclysm

Ed Raymond

Sliding to Hot Maelstroms on a Cool Six Waterslides Aboard an Icon Reality Show    

Las Vegas, Nevada, and its suburbs is the largest metro area in the Mojave Desert in the United States at 2.3 million residents and loves to call itself THE ENTERTAINMENT CAPITOL OF THE WORLD—which it probably is. It averages more than three million visitors a year, probably because “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It is always in the top three destinations for business conventions and is a global leader in the hospitality business. It has more AAA five Diamond hotels than any city in the world, has enough adult entertainment “facilities” to be called Sin City, and is known for its nightlife, fine dining, high-end shopping, and top show and musical entertainment. It ranks as one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations because it is certainly among the world leaders in the gambling “industry” and is very close to the Grand Canyon and many other national parks. “Las Vegas” means “meadows” in Spanish. Believe me, there ain’t no meadows on the Vegas Strip.     

With the world suffering through one of the hottest summers in human history, Las Vegas residents and visitors are experiencing a serious contest between air conditioning and asphalt and concrete sidewalks, streets, and buildings. California, Arizona, and Nevada are under extreme heat advisories right now, with many desert temperatures soaring past 120 F during the day and remaining between 90 F and 100 F during the night.

Death Valley really meant it when it was forecast to hit 131 F one day. A human being cannot live beyond 125 F. An asphalt street in Phoenix recently registered 168 F at noon. Pork chops are cooked at 145 F, eggs are fried at 160 F, and hamburgers are safe after hitting 165 F.   People in these states have been scalded by water when garden hoses have been left on lawns and in gardens. Children stepping on patios have suffered second degree burns. An elderly person falling on a sidewalk suffered third degree burns before being lifted. Residents have been burned by mailboxes, car door handles, black wheelchairs, and guard rails by doors. People are wearing gloves during extreme heat so they don’t accidentally touch metal and plastic surfaces. Studies have indicated that, if cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas suffer a 24-hour blackout period, about half of the populations would require medical emergency treatment and thousands would die of heat stroke.  

So What Are the Politicians, Rich, and Fossil Fuel Companies Doing about Climate?    

Noam Chomsky, our 94-year-old Divided States of America philosopher, summed up what the U.S. Congress was doing about climate change last week: “What’s happening? Take our two parties. One party is 100% denialist. Climate change is not happening or, if it’s happening, it’s none of our business. Not a single Republican voted for Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act which was a climate act. No Republican will vote for anything that harms the profits of the rich and the corporate sector, which they abjectly serve. The rich countries have created the disaster and the poor countries are its victims. It’s not just the defining issue of this century, but of human history. We’re reaching a point where irreversible processes will be set into motion. It doesn’t mean everybody is going to die tomorrow, but we’ll pass a tipping point where nothing can be done, where it’s just decline to disaster.” His statement calls for an “AMEN.”    

Listen to what United Nations Sec-Gen. Antonio Guterres said last March: “The rate of temperature rise in the last half-century is the highest in 2,000 years. Concentrations of carbon dioxide are at their highest in at least two million years. The climate time bomb is ticking. We are on a highway to climate hell with one foot still on the accelerator. It is the defining issue of our age. It is the central challenge of our century. Why isn’t there a greater sense of urgency in addressing it?”    

And what are our fossil fuel energy companies doing while the world is having the hottest summer in human history? Most are saying we have no alternative but to increase the burning of fossil fuels in order to run our air conditioners! It is evident that they are motivated by record profits. Science Professor Naomi Oreskes of Harvard, who concentrates on studying the oil industry, states: “The fossil fuel industry has massively profited from selling a dangerous product and now innocent people and governments across the globe are paying the price for their recklessness.” They have “talked the talk” of decreasing oil and gas production but they have never walked it by going back on public pledges. British Petroleum had promised three years ago to cut production by 35% by 2030 but now says it will try to cut by 20 to 30%. ExxonMobil has quietly stopped funding a project that would have used algae to create low-carbon fuel. Shell had promised to “dramatically” reduce production by 20% by 2030, but just announced it was not increasing investments in renewable energies. It reduced production by 20% by selling 20% of its production to another oil company!! Words cannot express…………The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says: “Shell has left no doubt that its pledges were deployed for cynical political purposes, only to be ditched when they no longer suited Shell’s strategic position.”  

Born with a Big Bang, Earth will Probably Die with a Tiny Whimper    

Former Vice-president Al Gore has been working on global warming, now called climate change for two decades, and 17 years ago produced the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” which raised the alarm somewhat. Despite the current apocalyptic weather news every night now, he still thinks we can save the earth and its life, but “we can’t waste a second.”

Gore sums up our current disasters with a report on what happened in 2022: “Last year 474 people were killed in storms and weather created $165 billion in damages. In 2021 we had $155 billion in damages. We know how to fix this. We can stop the temperatures going up worldwide with as little as a three-year time lag by reaching net zero. And if we stay at true net zero, we’ll see half of the human-caused CO2 coming out of the atmosphere in as little as 30 years. Eighty percent of all the energy used in the world today still comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel companies are desperately trying to use their political and economic networks and the successful capture of policy in too many countries to slow down this transition.

Every night on the TV news is like taking a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”     The Bible is a terrible source for truth. I don’t have Gore’s optimism about Homo sapiens. I think T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” describes the Trumplican science deniers, the Congress, and the fossil fuel corporate CEOs in just a few select lines:                

“We are the hollow men, we are the stuffed men leaning together               

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when we whisper together               

Are quiet and meaningless as wind in dry grass or rats’ feet                

Over broken glass in our dry cellar. The eyes are not here.               

There are no eyes here in this valley, this broken jaw of our lost kingdom.               

This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends,                 

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”  

Europeans have named their heat wave “Caronte” after the ferryman who paddles people around Dante’s Hell named “Inferno.”  

The Evidence of Our Coming Cataclysm is Visible on Seven Continents     

I submit the following evidence for the death of all life on earth:

1. At noon on July 16, the Persian International Airport in Iran reported a heat index of 152 F (heat and humidity), which is intolerable for human and animal life. This condition makes it impossible to regulate the internal temperature of the human body.

2. Farmers in Vietnam have been forced to plant and care for rice around midnight instead of noon because temperatures over 110 F will give them heat stroke.

3.  Because of the threat of a rising ocean and increasing power of storms and hurricanes, six insurance companies have gone bankrupt and Farmers Insurance is leaving Florida because of projected losses. Hurricane insurance is now running $13,000 a year for an average Florida home.

4. Because of the increasing danger of floods from torrential rains, the number of homes and buildings in flood plains will have to be at least doubled. The floods in Vermont recently proved that point. Horry County officials in South Carolina say that half of the homes recently flooded were technically out of designated flood zones.

5. The ocean temperature off Florida beaches reached 97 F on July 18. The temperature in San Francisco Bay was 72 F. on the same date. Perhaps a climate denier would like to comment.

6. Phoenix officials say if it has a 24-hour blackout, half of the population will need medical care and 13,000 will die of heatstroke.  

Will the Entertainment Capitol of the World Compete with the Icon of the Seas?    

The world’s largest cruise ship, the “Icon of the Seas” of the Royal Caribbean Group, will be based in Miami in 2024 when it makes its maiden voyage to Caribbean islands and other ports. It is registered in Liberia with other Royal Caribbean cruise ships so it can avoid millions in U.S. taxes. It is undergoing sea trials now. It is the largest ship in the world at 1198 feet and a gross tonnage weight of 250,800. It is bigger and taller than our biggest and tallest Navy aircraft carrier. For attractive starters it has 20 decks, 20 bars and restaurants, seven swimming pools, nine whirlpools, six water slides, a mini golf course, a rock-climbing wall, and an arcade. It is designed to carry 5,610 guests and a crew of 2,350. I just had a flash. I was raised on a farm four miles from Little Falls, Minnesota, which had a population of about 8,000, mostly German, French and Polish. The ship, built in the happiest country in the world, Finland, is already sold out for the first cruise.  

I wonder what will happen if Florida is in a heat crisis when the temperature is 115-120 F and it is trying to board guests on the Icon of the Seas. Will the crew pass out gloves to all passengers so they can touch metal and not be burned? Will the dock be covered with a white roof to reduce the sun’s heat? Maybe all passengers should board at night between 10 pm and two am. If the ocean is at 92.5 F, won’t it heat the entire ship too much while docked? How do you keep seven swimming pools cool? Why not advertise them as huge hottubs? I kept ours at 104 F. A lot of questions about climate change need to be answered soon.    In 1988 climate scientist James Hansen testified before Congress that the world was moving to temperatures that would be higher than at any point over the past million years which would bring stronger, storms, constant heat waves, and droughts. Gee, could he have been right?