Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jim Garrison Headshot

Surrendering 2011: Rendition and Methane

Posted: Updated:

In the fine print of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, passed just before the holidays, it turns out that in addition to being now legally able to seize without charge and hold indefinitely without trial any U.S. citizen, the government and the military also have the authority to use rendition on U.S. citizens. This was a policy originally enunciated by the Bush Administration to enable the CIA and the military to take suspects from one country to another for interrogation and torture, thus enabling U.S. officials to sidestep any human rights restrictions. Rendition was initially conceived as an extra-legal instrument in the war on terror. Now it is the law of the land and potentially applies to any and all U.S. citizens deemed "suspects."

Ironically, the Act was passed on the 220th anniversary of the passage of the Bill of Rights. It was signed into law by a president who went to Harvard to study the Constitution. All that remains is to activate the FEMA camps, some 600 nationwide, and 2012 becomes 1984.

This level of cynicism by our national leaders about our constitutionally guaranteed "inalienable rights" and the ability of a free people to determine their own future is staggering in its implications. One particular note concerns the media, which was largely silent until right at the very end, essentially after the Act had already passed both the House and the Senate. The United States just officially transitioned into a totalitarian democracy and the fact was barely noticed. I would guess that less that 15% of the public even knew it happened. After all, the Act passed with little debate and substantial majorities, a very rare event these days, and had the backing of the president. Much more present has been the bickering about the payroll tax extension, the jostling among Republican presidential candidates, and the holiday spending spree.

Synchronistically, during the very week the 2012 NDAA was passed, the Russian scientist Dr. Igor Semiletov reported that methane plumes over 1000 meters across were erupting in the Arctic Ocean and that he had mapped over 100 eruptions of lesser size in a 10,000 square mile area. He speculated that there were perhaps thousands more methane eruptions over a much larger expanse. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a methane rich area comprised of over 2 million square miles of seafloor under the Arctic Ocean. Most of the seafloor is quite shallow and flat, about 50 meters in depth, which means that the methane shoots right up directly into the atmosphere before it can be absorbed by the ocean. Methane is one of the green houses gases and is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming.

The import of methane spewing into the atmosphere is as bad for our climate as the 2012 NDAA is corrosive for our freedom. Indeed, the fact of their simultaneity indicates our governing elites are escalating the preparations for marshal law just as our climate is creating the turbulence they could use to justify it. Massive releases of methane into the atmosphere mean that climate turbulence is going to radically escalate and do so increasingly destructively, causing major breakdowns in our economic and social order.

It is important to note that as recently as the 2007 IPCC report, methane was not even mentioned because it was barely noted in the literature. That's a measure of how little we actually knew about what was really happening, even among those who were most concerned. By 2008, scientists were reporting methane releases across Siberia and the Arctic but only as bubbles and small bursts coming to the surface through the melting permafrost. Three years later, it is gushing out as plumes a third of a mile across, releasing millions of tons into the atmosphere every day.

We all need to internalize that even as our elites are completing the construction of national security states, the climate situation on planet Earth is rapidly spinning out of control. Over the next 24 - 36 months, the gushers of methane are going to radically increase and pretty soon our whole atmosphere is going to be saturated with methane. Methane is highly flammable. As global temperatures continue to increase, lightning strikes will also increase. Sooner or later, most likely sooner than later, there are likely to be explosions in the atmosphere as lightning strikes hit particularly dense plumes of methane. It is worth remembering that it was a bubble of methane gas that erupted on the BP platform that ignited the largest oil disaster in history. That event may turn out to be the cautionary tale of our time.

That and the fact that 2011 set the record for setting records. It saw over 2,500 records in either temperatures or extreme weather events across the United States alone, causing over $50 billion in property damage and thousands of people injured or dead. When you add similar statistics in countries around the world, you begin to get a measure of what the addition of massive releases of methane into the atmosphere is going to trigger in the climate. We are heading into a radical destabilization of weather and society as we know it.

And, lest we forget, along with rising extreme weather is the rising of the oceans. The methane plumes mean radically accelerating ice melt. As a quick calculus, the melting of both polar caps and Greenland means a sea level rise of 175 - 200 feet. How long this will take is directly proportional to how high global temperatures get how quickly. Rising sea levels are already underway and, like the extreme weather, are beginning to also accelerate. Coastal cities worldwide are experiencing increased flooding, and island nations like the Maldives are already sinking in the rising tides.

In the face of this, is there even a public debate? Are we preparing contingencies? Are we thinking through possible adaptations? No. Our national leaders have collectively decided to do virtually nothing. 2010 saw more CO2 spewed into the atmosphere than any year on record while our governments determined a few weeks ago at the Climate Conference in Durban essentially not to engage with climate change until 2020. While this decision was being made, most of the rest of us went holiday shopping, seeking to go about our normal lives. All of us that is except those few brave souls courageous enough to either commit civil disobedience at the White House over the tar sands issue, as damaging to our climate as methane, or Occupy our public places with the simple plea to save our future and rectify the growing inequalities that are obscenely enriching the wealthy while savagely empoverishing the middle class and the poor.

This is how we are surrendering 2011. 2012 looms ahead with a nation so bitterly divided that neither public debate nor good governance are to be seen across the land. The Republican Party is dominated by lunatics wanting to de-regulate environmental laws even further while denying that climate change even exists, and the Democrats are led by a president so feckless he has lost his way, having no vision for the future other than tactical moves through the gridlock that is Washington politics. Around the world, confusion reigns, the global economy is increasingly fragile, and politics are rent with dysfunction.

Right when we need all the virtues that our Republic was founded to nurture and protect, we have instead completed the construction of a national security state and allowed money corrupted politics to govern our land and much of the rest of the world. All while in the distant north, where rising temperatures relentlessly melt the ice cover of a once frozen ocean floor, plumes of methane now gush forth. Yet still we sleep, or rather sleep walk, no longer tending our journey through history with the attentiveness our civilization demands. We are mesmerized by a way of life fueled by an addiction to oil that poisons our politics even as it disrupts our climate, seducing us to our doom.


Register To Vote