Still Smelling the Sulphur

I’m just emerging from a Christmas Eve flu arrival, but wanted to post this story, sent on by my friend Doug Pressman.

Seems that it takes only 16 cargo ships to emit as much sulphur pollution as the entirety of the world’s billion-plus automotive fleet.

This speaks to the uncounted costs of our overclass’s continuing reliance on low-wage globalization, and also to the inadequacy of regulating isolated segments of the immensely destructive and wasteful corporate capitalist transportation regime.

It is also an important reminder of how comprehensive our problems are in this make-it-or-break-it century.

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Jean
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Jean

It shows how what we do locally can cause damage not only at home, but to people thousands of miles away.

It isn’t just the US military with their endless wars, but ALL the small actions that millions of us engage in that are killing the only home we have.

We need to be much more aware, all of the time, of the final results of even simple everyday acts.

Blaming business for climate change does not work when it is OUR spending that supports that same business.

Michael Dawson
Guest

Jean, how do you propose people could make choices as isolated individuals that would stop all this? Corporate power is not a democracy. Buying a product at the grocery store is not a directive to the board of directors. Corporate owners and managers make these decisions, and rely on the fact that we are all basically stuck going to the grocery store, and the car lot, and the shopping mall. To my eye, they, not us, are 95 percent to blame in this mess. Blaming little people for climate change (and all the other ecological catastrophes) strikes me as both… Read more »

Martin
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Martin

That is an fearsome statistic, one that is absolutely sobering.
The supersystem inculcates in us, the individual, self-assignation of blame, of complicity, of world-defining guilt, yet the operations of supertanker commerce and devastation occur at the richly rewarded levels of corporations, nations, anxious elites. As you say, they get the billions of shares and the yachts, we impute to ourselves non-existent command and control.
How many cargo ships are going to chug along as little continents of greenhouse gas dispensaries in our lifetimes?

Michael Dawson
Guest

Yeah, I was blown away by this, too. The other thing it makes you wonder is to what degree, by regulating sulphur content for automotive fuels, did we merely wind up making shipping fuel more sulphur-toxic? The story I cite doesn’t really flesh this out fully, but I bet Fred Pearce knows.

It’s kind of like DDT. According to one expert, “DDT usage in the world today is roughly the same as it was prior to the ban by most of the Western countries.”

Sheldon
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Sheldon

It is absolutely the for profit system of capitalism that is to blame. It is absolutely absurd (but still profitable) that lumber and fish and other things can be harvested in North America, then shipped to China for processing and manufacture, then shipped back here for sale. Makes sense to the corporate CEO to exploit that cheap labor to maximize profit, but no sense what so ever in any other rational terms.

RJHall
Guest

Maybe the reference is too obvious to mention, but I like it so much I’ll mention it anyway! The title reminds me of Hugo Chavez who keeps saying (as he did at Copenhagen, see here
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5030 ) that the world (thanks to Obama continuing the policies of The Empire) still smells like sulphur, referring to his reference of Bush II as the devil at the UN some years ago.

Jean
Guest
Jean

So much of what we all buy is unnecassary and useless. We, in developed countries have and buy way more than we need of so many things. If we would limit our purchases to real needs instead of endless wants we would do a lot to limit the damage. We are like drug addicts. The drug dealers and suppliers would go out of business if they did not have costumers and, as we have seen with the recession, a lot of business would go under if people bought less junk. The little people aren’t to blame for this, but they… Read more »

Michael Dawson
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Well, Jean, there’s no doubt that it takes two to tango, and that human beings always have some access to freedom, even under totalitarian conditions. Deciding how you want to analyze the choice-making situations people find themselves in is something that’s up to each of us who is lucky enough to have access to the questions and information it takes to weigh that question. Personally speaking, I tend to think it’s a good idea to refrain from blaming the commoners until the commoners have something like freedom of choice and a set of robust alternatives. To my eye, we have… Read more »

Michael Dawson
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RJ, I was totally thinking of Chavez with this title. His UN speech was a landmark event of the past decade, IMHO!

op
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op

i never visit here enough md

i’m too output oriented
like most post modern anaclytics

sorry you deserve constant affirmation

Martin
Guest
Martin

On page 55 of British TV journalist Paul Mason’s “Meltdown: The End of the Age of greed,” he writes: America, said Paulson, had ‘humiliated itself as a nation.’ Many Americans found this hard to understand: they did not feel humiliated. But, then again, they had not stated their reputations on the free-market philosophy that created this mess. Paulson had; so had Bernanke; so had the financial elites of America, Britain, and many smaller countries. This is the summation for our times. I chose, out of informed principle and molecular bull-headedness, not to join the corporate or academic cesspools. I will… Read more »

Eugyppius
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Eugyppius

I wonder how much of our “large-scale, technologically-dynamic society” we can take away from the head guys. I wonder how much sense any of it will make outside the totalitarian, capitalist context in which it was developed — the context that so much of it seems to require. I’m far from being an expert, but it looks to me like much of the last century’s worth of technological development has not only been inspired by the capitalist system, but fine-tuned to sustain its illusions and fulfill its unique needs. Again, I’m not an economist or a technologist, but what little… Read more »

Michael Dawson
Guest

Great question, Eug. Let’s hope we somehow get the chance to find out.

Mapp
Guest
Mapp

As wage levels equalize world-wide, the tendency to throw up specialized factories wherever labor (of appropriate skill level) is cheapest will be abandoned. Other rules will govern where manufacturing happens. Then a worst case would have the working classes of all regions living like today’s lowest cost workers. According to Forbes.com, Madagascar is offering labor at $0.18/hour and Sri Lanka at $0.23/hour. (You have to go through a sequence of photographs to find this.) http://www.forbes.com/2008/05/25/change-security-internet-oped-cx_rm_outsourcing08_0529data.html Maybe it won’t be quite so grim. Labor struggle might raise living standards for today’s low cost workers or their descendants so that wage equalization… Read more »

Michael Dawson
Guest

Fascinating stuff from Forbes there, Mapp, but how is it you conclude that “war abroad is popular”?

The polls show that over half the voting population was against Obama’s Afghan escalation. And the voting population is the more conservative half of our total population.

Take a look at Chomsky’s Failed States.

No offense, but I’m getting damned sick of the left blaming the little people for the sins of the Bigs.

Mapp
Guest
Mapp

Organizing against foreign war is NOT popular. That much is clear.

Anyhow, I am thinking more of what Chomsky has called the ‘comprador class’ or rather the domestic analogue of such a class. I don’t blame the wretched of the earth for the condition of the earth.

But please tell us who comprise the ‘little people’ in the USA and who the Bigs. I ask this in honest perplexity. Is this a comprehensive dichotomy?

Perhaps you could point me to an item in the TCT archive. Thanks.

Michael Dawson
Guest

Organizing against imperialist wars is not popular, but there a host of powerful sociological explanations for that, not least being that the educational and communications environments make it extremely unlikely that individuals will gain access to the information they need to facilitate the beginnings of rebellious thinking. It remains to be seen if anybody can organize resistance on any topic in our age of tightly managed, wall-to-wall commercial TV. They don’t let cameras roll unedited for 30 minutes at Birmingham or My Lai any more. As to the littles: About 70 percent of the US population has no meaningful net… Read more »

Mapp
Guest
Mapp

Thank you for the prompt reply to my question. Concerning the cameras rolling unedited for 30 minutes, you certainly picked a couple of interesting examples WRT my personal history. I can remember Bull Conner sitting on my grandfather’s front porch back in the 1950’s, and I had some eye-opening experiences in the Ca Mau Peninsula in the late 1960’s, though nothing so harrowing as My Lai, more a matter of environmental devastation (‘moonscaping’, I call it). What a coincidence, if that’s what it is. I look forward to getting your book from the library. Oh, and no more annoyance from… Read more »