Tagged: Global Warming

Global Warming

SurvivaBalls save managers from abrupt climate change

An advanced new technology will keep corporate managers safe even when climate change makes life as we know it impossible. (Speech here.)

"The SurvivaBall is designed to protect the corporate manager no matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way," said Fred Wolf, a Halliburton representative who spoke today at the Catastrophic Loss conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida. "This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate change," he said to an attentive and appreciative audience.

Most scientists believe global warming is certain to cause an accelerating onslaught of hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, etc. and that a world-destroying disaster is increasingly possible. For example, Arctic melt has slowed the Gulf Stream by 30% in just the last decade; if the Gulf Stream stops, Europe will suddenly become just as cold as Alaska. Global heat and flooding events are also increasingly possible.

In order to head off such catastrophic scenarios, scientists agree we must reduce our carbon emissions by 70% within the next few years. Doing that would seriously undermine corporate profits, however, and so a more forward-thinking solution is needed.

At today's conference, Wolf and a colleague demonstrated three SurvivaBall mockups, and described how the units will sustainably protect managers from natural or cultural disturbances of any intensity or duration. The devices - looking like huge inflatable orbs - will include sophisticated communications systems, nutrient gathering capacities, on-board medical facilities, and a daunting defense infrastructure to ensure that the corporate mission will not go unfulfilled even when most human life is rendered impossible by catastrophes or the consequent epidemics and armed conflicts.

"It's essentially a gated community for one," said Wolf.

Dr. Northrop Goody, the head of Halliburton's Emergency Products Development Unit, showed diagrams and videos describing the SurvivaBall's many features. "Much as amoebas link up into slime molds when threatened, SurvivaBalls also fulfill a community function. After all, people need people," noted Goody as he showed an artist's rendition of numerous SurvivaBalls linking up to form a managerial aggregate with functional differentiation, metaphorically dancing through the streets of Houston, Texas.

The conference attendees peppered the duo with questions. One asked how the device would fare against terrorism, another whether the array of embedded technologies might make the unit too cumbersome; a third brought up the issue of the unit's cost feasibility. Wolf and Goody assured the audience that these problems and others were being addressed.

"The SurvivaBall builds on Halliburton's reputation as a disaster and conflict industry innovator," said Wolf. "Just as the Black Plague led to the Renaissance and the Great Deluge gave Noah a monopoly of the animals, so tomorrow's catastrophes could well lead to good - and industry must be ready to seize that good."

Goody also noted that Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society was set to employ the SurvivaBall as part of its Corporate Sustenance (R) program. Another of Cousteau's CSR programs involves accepting a generous sponsorship from the Dow Chemical Corporation.

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Thursday, May 20, Cleveland (video here)

 

We have been out for half an hour, and already we have collected a dozen on-camera signatures supporting Bush's new pro-America ice age.

 

We are representing the Bush campaign on the streets of downtown Cleveland on a balmy spring day. Business people pour out of high-rise offices during lunch hour. Dressed in business suits we approach with clipboards and smiles, begging folks to sign our petition and explaining in no uncertain terms exactly what it's about. We also offer copies of our "position paper."

 

The petition and paper are about global warming—as solution, not problem. Americans should embrace global warming, we assert, and even accelerate the process should it serve any tactical military or economic advantages.

 

We wish we'd invented this, but we haven't. Our petition is based on a 2003 Pentagon report (full story here) acknowledging the existence of global warming, but questioning its importance. Instead of cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, we should prepare a fortified border to protect against the influx of starving masses. Instead of trying to regulate atmospheric pollutants, we should consider the possible economic advantage that a climate change might give us over up-and-coming economic superpowers like China, Europe, and Japan.

 

The Pentagon also asks us to consider a final solution to the problem of global warming: apply more heat. As popularized in The Day After Tomorrow, the irony of global warming is that it may cause a new ice age due to interrupted oceanic and atmospheric currents. The Pentagon paper suggests that in such an eventuality, we could pump more goop into the air to heat the planet up even more. Voilà! problem solved.

 

This is the snake oil we're selling to people in the streets of downtown Cleveland: supporting the use of pollution as a weapon against our neighbors, and supporting the development of even more effective means of warming the planet.

 

When we started this morning, it looked like we would not collect many signatures.

 

Us: "Would you sign this petition to support global warming?"

Citizen: "Support global warming?"

Us: "That’s right! Would you support the coming Ice Age?"

Laughter, pat on back. We change our pickup line.

Us: "Will you sign a petition supporting Bush’s environmental policies?"

 

Many still laugh the moment they hear "Bush" and "environment" in the same sentence. Even Republicans don't think they've heard right at first—"Did you say supporting?"—but after a moment they reach for the pen. At that point, we go in for the kill.

 

Us: "Wait—first we have to explain what you're signing. This is about supporting the Pentagon's positive approach to global warming, rather than the Democrats' negative one. See, global warming could lead to a new ice age, which would freeze over Europe, turn China into a desert, sink Japan under rising water levels. That's bad for them—but they're our competitors! America would emerge relatively okay, and at a big economic advantage. So global warming is on our side. Plus, if something really bad happens, we can always spew more greenhouse gases into the air, and heat the world up even more."

Citizen: "This supports Bush, right?"

Us: "Well, yes, this is about his administration's approach to global warming—freezing Europe, sinking Japan..."

Citizen: "Where do I sign?"

Us: "Um, here..."

 

We make our explanation as brutal as we can, but people keep signing, even with a video camera shooting the whole thing.

 

After collecting two dozen signatures in this way, we sit down at an outdoor cafe to contemplate the depressing results.

 

Half the people we approached ran away as soon as they heard "support" and "Bush" in the same sentence. Almost all the others eagerly signed, and there was nothing we could do to dissuade them from doing so.

 

How can this be? In the August 4 New York Times, West Virginia resident Charlie Crouse said residents of his county "wouldn’t care if you had Krushchev on the ballot—if he were Republican we’d check it off." Perhaps we can't expect anyone to listen, no matter how strange we think we sound.

 

But we're hoping to reach at least a few. The people for whom this might mean something are those elusive swing voters, that strange animal on whom it is currently open season in the swing states, with hundreds of hunters hoping to bag one and inch their candidate closer to victory. At times it must feel like a snipe hunt. Could the swing voters simply be imaginary, part of a cosmic joke?

 

Perhaps not. Two of the people we approached this afternoon picked up the pen when we asked them to sign, but when we explained the full policy to them, said they'd like to think about it first. We gave them the position papers we'd prepared, replete with accurate footnotes and citations for further reading, and hoped it would help them to do so.

 

During the three hours or so we walked around with our clipboards, there was only one person who understood that we couldn't possibly be serious. We approached him because he was clean-cut and well-dressed, just the type we imagined might be a Republican. He immediately saw through our charade and joined in. His jovial political banter made it clear he had thought things through, knew the difference between Clean Air and "Clear Skies," and knew exactly how to pull someone's legs.

 

Then he explained to us and our camera that he was mentally ill and homeless, and that he was dressed up in order to deal with some administrative issue. He signed our petition with a big flourish, to be part of the joke.

 

When the only person who understands the full insanity of our government's positions is supposedly insane, what kind of reality are we living in?

 
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