Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

The End of the World As We Know It

By Cam Mather

So here goes. I’ll probably offend some of my readers. I’ll get hate mail. I probably shouldn’t write this, but you know what? I’ve had it with humanity’s stupidity.

I’ve been watching the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm/Perfect Storm Sandy. The beach is now on the other side of most of New Jersey. Lots of New York was underwater including the subway and tunnels. Eight million people were without power and it’s still not on for many. The destruction is brutal.

All of this after those insane wild fires in the South. And the summer where a bazillion temperature records were broken. Oh, and that historic drought that parched so much of North America and devastated crops.

This historic flood damage comes 6 days before the US Presidential Election. And has either one of the candidates for the two parties mentioned climate change? Has anyone even suggested that this is something we should be discussing during an election? Well, no one except the Green Party, which is marginalized by mainstream media.

So what aren’t we getting about this?

This isn’t normal. Or it is the new normal, the new normal created by climate change. And it’s kind of miserable.

There were some people talking about it. New York Governor Cuomo said “We keep getting these 100 year storms… every year.” He directly related the extent of the damage to a warming planet. He said if this keeps up we’ll have to start building systems like in Holland to hold back the sea. The NBC weather guy confirmed this is climate change related. For years weather people just keep skirting around this point. Heck, even Brian Williams on NBC kept talking about climate change. They interviewed scientists with NOAA who said the oceans are getting warmer and higher which just compounds storm surges like this. The weather forecasters seemed to be in awe of the size of this storm as it rolled up the coast.

So here we have pretty much unequivocal proof that we’re causing this mess, and the one time in 4 years that we have a chance to talk about it, we don’t. Heck, elections aren’t the time to talk about controversial issues…LIKE SAVING THE SPECIES FROM EXTINCTION!!!

Even “The Economist”, the stalwart of stogy businessmen, is talking about climate change in the context of Hurricane Sandy.

And they’re saying we really NEED to do something about it.  Even Businessweek Magazine got into the act this week with its cover, “It’s Global Warming Stupid.”

One solution is simple. Tax carbon. Shift the onus for climate change on to the people who cause it. That would be me. I buy gasoline. I drive a car. So I should pay for pumping carbon into the atmosphere. I fully accept that. And I like the challenge of figuring out how to pump less of it. And you know what? Business people are pretty smart at this as well, and pretty quickly they’ll find ways to help us all pump out less carbon.

We just need a framework to do it. And it can’t be that hard. But to start with, we must talk about it. We must admit we have a problem and that we need to change.

And how did this happen? I watched a great “Frontline” on PBS a few weeks back called “Climate of Doubt”. You can watch it online.

If you believe climate change is causing the sort of weather we’re experiencing, you’ll find this quite depressing. I kind of regretted watching it, but it shows you how a very small group of people have had a huge effect on getting the discussion of climate change off the US election table. I give them credit. They’ve been incredibly effective. And we live in a democracy and they have every right in this case to be wrong.

I just don’t know how many droughts, how many wildfires, how many broken temperature records and how many devastating hurricanes it will take before the public will rise up and say ‘enough!’ We get it already. We learned about obfuscation from the tobacco debate. And now we have 98% of climate scientists saying that climate change is real and it is a clear and present danger. So let’s get on with dealing with it.

And like Bill Maher said recently to some climate change deniers on his show, and I paraphrase, “I just don’t get how people with children can have that point of view because it’s our kids who are on the clean up crew.”

There is no time to try and muddy the waters any longer. Let’s just shift taxes from income to carbon. And admit we have a problem and try and get off fossil fuels. Fast.

Next election I’ll keep voting Green. Next time I get a hankering to drive 2 hours to Ottawa to the nearest IKEA because I think buying some stuff will cheer me up, I’m going to squash those temptations and split some firewood instead. I don’t need anymore “stuff.” I NEED to make sure I’m not leaving the gym floor a littered mess for the clean up crew.



  1. I know what you are saying but the oil people, that HUGE lobby, will never let it happen, there is money in selling as much fuel as they can as fast as they can for as much as they can, why do you think the western world is involved in so many wars, there is huge money in it for the contracters, weapon manufacturers and oil companies. I don’t need any more stuff,. We run a small sustainable farm and feed ourselves and our families. Even my car runs on recycled cooking oil from local restaurants. It IS up to the people to do what they can. It is all very well to tell the govt to do it but i think primarily it is my problem.. are we so rare, the people who care? c

  2. First this isnt hate mail, and say what ever you want, just expect others to do so as well.
    If more taxes are the answer the question is stupid. Right, the government will proportionaly reduce income tax as they ramp up carbon tax. What have you been growing in your garden? it aint tomatto plants with that thought process going on.
    Here is a thought for you, perhaps it isnt denying climte change just stoping more goverment theft.
    If your over 40 with more than two fingers of forehead you will see this as a another wealth distribution plan, ofcourse its getting warmer but at this point I, and those I know say burn the place down rather than take one more god damn nickle from me, regulate my life even more….No
    If co2 is the nail your going to hang your hat on cant you figure out ways to reduce that without shoving a government hand further into my pocket. I can! why cant you?, and those like you who just want to take more from others do so!
    If any solutions at this point involve any more restrictive legislation, compliance proccedures, insurance requirements, lawyers, government employies, or taxes I say give me a parka IM FREEZING in here.
    Here is some thoughts for you that dont involve sticking a hand in a pocket.
    Road legislation- nation wide, no licencing for bikes with electric assist say up to 750 watts. no insurance requirments for home built or bought velomobiles with e assist to 1000 watts and/0r up to 2hp engines.
    Allow the great small cars and pickups to be imported that I have driven in Europe, and asia, they are 40-50 mile pergallon plus.
    Prohibit insurance companies from refuseing to provide insurance to home owners who build, install there own solar/ wind system.
    Prohibit any province or municipality from passing any legislation that restricts 1000sqft or under owner built homes. Infact prohibit any property tax for the the first 3 years on such structurers so those building their own modist homes have more funds to put towards insulation, and good windows!
    Christ, I can come up with a list that doesnt involve the ever expanding civil service taking more money from me, Why cant you?
    Untill those like you quit thinking of what else you can get the government to take from me I say burn the place down, at least I will take you with me.

  3. Oh, I am solar/wind powered, living in a wood heated home I built myself. Fully in agreement about climate change. Just in case that didnt come across. and the green party isnt marginalized by the main stream media, they have done it to themself.

  4. richard

    As a Yank, I have to say GREAT POST CAM! I believe that you are spot in for the denouncement of our (US) political system for not doing anything meaningful with this election “opportunity” as we were apparently too busy living in denial. All to many people have pointed out that there are NO JOBS ON A DEAD PLANET. I hope that our leaders are helpless here because they believe it isn’t that bad. They are wrong of course, and Gaia/Mother Earth will continue to demonstrate that to them. I want to believe they are not this stupid on purpose, due to the hundreds of millions of dollars they owe the carbon industry. And Analog Man, while I commend your lifestyle, understand your displeasure with taxes, and agree that taxation may not be THE best way to address the carbon loading, I do believe it can be a powerful tool. Cam does highlight the point in his post that we’d need to work on the details, but I do believe that some of the details could be:
    that it cost something for everyone who contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere,
    that there exists a credit for taking co2 out of the atmosphere (through soils/plants/etc)
    that the burden is especially high on the industries that make the problem the worst (coal/oil extraction and production which enables everyone else to burn carbon)
    that the burden on individuals be enough to meaningfully motivate different actions
    that it be about changing behaviors of ourselves and industry and not about the $$
    that any $$ be used to help develop and implement newer, carbon-free, effecient technologies
    Of course, everything that Analog Man suggests as far as allowing clean/green tech shoudl absolutely be done yesterday. There is no point working on making things better if we don’t take advantage of doing the right things now. Sadly, that won’t be enough to discourage industry, who by far are the worst polluters, and are so primarily because they can, and it is cheaper to pollute than to not polute – That MUST change. The basic premise is that we aren’t taking into account all the natural capital that goes into the production of everything- there is no price for oxygen rich air, for clean enough water, for normalish weather patterns- nothing that hits the balance sheet of those doing the balancing. We need to find a way to factor that stuff into our daily lives, so that everyone- both individuals and corporations (who are now people too)- recognizes that is it far far cheaper and lest costly to do the right thing for our bioshpere, such that we don’t screw up the “bio” and just end up with a dead “shpere”.

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