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January 08, 2010

New Tomdispatch


The Melting of America
The Story of a Can’t-Do Nation

By Orville Schell

Lately, I’ve been studying the climate-change induced melting of glaciers in the Greater Himalaya. Understanding the cascading effects of the slow-motion downsizing of one of the planet’s most magnificent landforms has, to put it politely, left me dispirited. Spending time considering the deleterious downstream effects on the two billion people (from the North China Plain to Afghanistan) who depend on the river systems -- the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, Amu Darya and Tarim -- that arise in these mountains isn’t much of an antidote to malaise either.

If you focus on those Himalayan highlands, a deep sense of loss creeps over you -- the kind that comes from contemplating the possible end of something once imagined as immovable, immutable, eternal, something that has unexpectedly become vulnerable and perishable as it has slipped into irreversible decline...

Another tipping point has also been on my mind lately and it’s left me no less melancholy. In this case, the Moby Dick in question is my own country, the United States of America. We Americans, too, seem to have passed a tipping point. Like the glaciers of the high Himalaya, long familiar aspects of our nation are beginning to feel as if they were, in a sense, melting away.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 8, 2010 08:40 AM

A lot of Schell's concerns are wise enough, but then there was this:

"the U.S. military, the best led, trained, equipped, and maintained on the planet, despite the way it has been repeatedly thrust into hopeless wars by stupid politicians."

Oh yeah, the U.S. military is not political at all and has nothing to do with all those wars happening. Good grief, even our liberal intellectuals are so starry-eyed about the military that they can't recognize or admit its power and the very direct negative consequences of it.

Posted by: N E at January 8, 2010 08:30 PM

It's also funny that he claims China's way ahead of us when it's just as polluted as we are and has no plans of taking responsiblity.

Posted by: Jenny at January 9, 2010 10:10 PM

It's also funny that he is so concerned about global warming and then brags about he is jetting all over the world trying to figure this shit out. Hmmmmm.

Posted by: saurabh at January 11, 2010 03:14 AM

I also noticed that Schell thinks the glaciers only just started receding. I learned better than that in sixth-grade science class. The glaciers are always coming and going, and going and coming, and always too soon.

Posted by: Duncan at January 11, 2010 02:31 PM

I also noticed that Schell thinks the glaciers only just started receding

Um, no, he doesn't.

Posted by: stras at January 12, 2010 12:25 PM