Thursday, November 27, 2014

Late Night Thoughts on Global Warming

The possibilities of global warming’s devastation are becoming more pronounced and striking. While models aren’t going to be 100% accurate, and unknown factors may slightly shift the picture, the overall takeaway is obvious:

Water shortages

Global outcomes, milder scenario still showing the US' big problem

This one shows number of days a year with over 100 degree temperatures

This is the most important/frightening

As someone who is working (in my spare time, at least) to fixing America’s broken political system, I can’t help but wonder why I should bother, or any of us should care, when the continental United States is going to be unrecognizable in a century.

If someone made me dictator for life tomorrow, what would I do to counteract the chaos of global warming? These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night. Here follows a non-ordered list of things I thought about Monday (up until 3 am) that would help solve the problem.

1.      Move the Capital. Missoula, it is your time to shine. Look at those maps above and note how Western Montana is relatively unscathed. Keeping the capital in the South is going to be impossible, and possibly dangerous. Congress already takes the summer off due to the heat – who wants them to take the year? (Not that you’d notice a difference…) The current District of Columbia would be folded into Maryland, and a bit into Virginia (using the Potomac as demarcation). Ship the Smithsonian out to Missoula as well. Disband the National Zoo (send the critters to other zoos that can take them) and abandon the gardens and such. Turn the buildings into museums (White House, Capitol) and sell off the uninteresting ones to Maryland and Virginia. The biggest issue would be the Pentagon.

2.      Solar roadways. I think this technology needs to be rolled out on a massive scale. Making sure they can take extreme temperatures (say 250 degrees) these little hexagons could transform nearly all paved surfaces, from the obvious highways to the basketball courts. Solar power in general – put the strongest ones out in the soon-to-be inhospitable areas. This allows us to have power as the fossil fuels disappear. Flight would still be an issue, of course, but solar planes are doable (on the smallest scale). Back to hot air balloons.

3.      Close National Parks. Global warming will portend an era of isolationism as America deals with its greatest concern: survival. Consolidation will be required on many fronts, and an obvious one is closing National Parks. Rangers will simply die if assigned to places like Death Valley and Joshua Tree. They’ll remain federal land, but unstaffed. Other obvious choices due to weather or conserving finances: Everglades, Dry Tortugas, Biscayne, Virgin Islands, Samoa, Haleakala, Great Basin, Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend, Congaree, Hot Springs, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Saguaro, Petrified Forest and Cuyahoga. Import billions of the hardiest, drought-resistant trees possible, and cultivate our own (looking to you, Africa and Australia).

4.      Relocations. Much of the American population would need to move north, and out of danger. Goodbye, Phoenix. Goodbye El Paso. Goodbye Miami, and New Orleans. Luckily places like North Dakota are pretty empty (looking at you too, Wyoming. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan will also be a lot friendlier. At first give incentives, then help with the relocations as needed. For the American families and also for the Capital we can repurpose what manufacturing we have left (Boeing comes to mind) to create the sort of massive trucks and transports to facilitate this in an orderly fashion, starting in the worst-hit and moving north. Thousands of new towns and cities will be created, as people are re-settled. We've done this before, though.

5.      Labor. Lots of labor needed, and shrinking territory. Many Americans busy moving north to set up new lives leaves a problem, like who is going to pave our solar roadways? The best answer is to take in refugees and use prisoners. Countries that exist today simply will not in the future, especially in the Pacific. By accepting refugees to take on the worst of the labor, we will grant them citizenship as a reward, provided they follow the law and pay taxes. Prisons in the south will need to be closed, as well, and rather than rebuild them all up north we can consolidate – prisoners who committed non-violent misdemeanors can reduce their sentences to two years of labor, or the remainder of time needed to serve. Reintegrates them into society, and solves a decades-old problem.

6.      Buy Greenland. We’re going to need space, and we’re going to need to redraw the map. Some states are going to be effectively lost. I’d recommend essentially grouping the Southwest into one large state, New Calizonia, or whatever. Hardly anyone will live there (except to maintain our enormous solar panel project). Basically LA to the Grand Canyon to El Paso, and all points South. Split Texas in two. Let Puerto Rico either join us or cut them loose. And buy Greenland. In a century that’s going to be prime real estate, and Denmark sure as hell doesn’t need it. Buy it from them legitimately, and quickly. Before the Russians come knocking in Copenhagen. Talk it over with Canada and the UN first, so all goes through smoothly. This also is an opportunity to resettle the refugees we take on, which ought to please the UN, and solve the shortage of space. (Alaska will also be heavily settled.) When Greenland and Alaska fill up we’ll make new states of them, maybe getting back a full 50 someday. Let the (few) current residents choose to remain Danes, become  Americans, or have dual citizenship. While we’re at it, relocate the U.N. to Iceland, or some such other obvious choice.

7.      The Economy – shrink it. Stop unnecessary foreign imports. Kill the overly-massive finance sector. No more pears year-round. Decrease meat availability to conserve water and land. Ban monoculture and genetic patenting for crops. Wall Street should, literally, be under water anyway. Highly tax land for unneeded things – with millions of families on the move we don’t need a Burger King across the street from a Starbucks, across from a Subway. Tax the ever-loving hell out them, and get rid of them. Encourage micro-scale farming, so households own chickens, grow herbs and vegetables, etc. An ungodly sum of money will be needed, after all, to move to Missoula, grab Greenland, relocate half the country, and deal with all the other inevitable crises (wild fires, crime control, disease control, etc.) Land used for unnecessary crops (tobacco, marijuana) will also be taxed at crushing rates.

8.      Youth. First, give incredible benefits to studying relevant topics – focus the brainpower. Engineering, tropical disease prevention, social workers, electricians. Actually penalize those that aren’t as useful – more tuition for the English majors (for ten years or so, not forever). Upon graduation give four options, with a GI Bill sort of reward. Option one:  join the Forces (which will need to be converted to sustainable power, etc.). With such a radical shift in borders and general global chaos we will need to be extra alert, and ready to respond. This would be a four-year commitment. Could also be served in the National Guard / new settlement police force. Option two: Peace Corps. We need to keep America’s name in good standing abroad, and things will get back to normal the sooner everyone else is back to normal. We can build solar roadways in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. This would be a four-year commitment. Option three: Resettling pioneers. Send the teachers, doctors, lawyers, construction overseers, etc. Turn the prairie into towns again – land is yours (10 acres max, mule optional). Send the talent to the areas that need to be settled, and the others will be more eager to follow. Five year commitment, doing habitat for humanity-style work based on specialty.

9.      Kill Hollywood and the 1%. Finish up whatever’s in production, and then close the majority of studios. (Keep some, for morale, obviously.) Likewise the TV stations and networks. And the professional sports (waaaaay decreased. Salary caps of $100,000 for players, $500,000 for owners. See who still really loves the game.) In other words, minimize the unsustainable culture that treats entertainers like gods.  As for those who have 80 bazillion gallons of gold in their coffers from non-entertainment sources, they will be taxed out the wazoo – 90%, as back in the Eisenhower era. Freezing all assets when attempted to be siphoned out of the country. They can leave – but like emigrants land and wealth will be confiscated upon renunciation of citizenship, automatic upon leaving the US for a period of two years. During those two years assets will be monitored. Taxes must be paid on all earnings – and this applies to everyone. Tax evasion will be brought to 1% or less, with labor detail or prison for those who do not pay their share in a time of gravest crisis.

10. Space. Houston and Cape Canaveral are both going to be pretty much kaput. Places like White Sands are also going to be unfeasible. Military bases will, as much as possible, need to be reconsolidated in safer zones. The space program will be temporarily disbanded. Observation will continue on a limited scale, and some NASA types will be repurposed to the other obvious threat we face, of rogue asteroids.

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