By Matthew Rothschild on August 13, 2010

It’s impossible to look at the images coming out of Pakistan and not shake your head at the brutality of Mother Nature.

But is it Mother Nature’s fault—or our own?

Is this just a freak occurrence, or the result of global warming?

I was speaking with Brian Tokar this morning. He’s the director of the Institute for Social Ecology and the author of “Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change,” and he believes that the flood, along with recent freak weather like Russia’s drought and fires, can be traced back to our destruction of the environment.

“The weather is noticeably more chaotic,” he writes in his book, “corresponding rather closely to climate scientists’ longstanding predictions.”

In one of those predictions from 2007, the IPCC said global warming will cause “increased deaths, disease, and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fire, and drought.”

And while pinning any one event on global warming is tricky,

Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, director-general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, told Reuters: "The only explanation can be the link to climate change. Because that area very rarely receives monsoon rains."

Other stories in the mainstream media have made the same connection, including one in the Telegraph of London and one from AP.

If global warming is the culprit, we’ll need to send more than helicopters and international aid teams to Pakistan.

We’ll need nothing less that “a sweeping ecological transformation of society,” Tokar says in his book. “Our survival is imperiled by the overconsumption of the world’s affluent minority.”

We need to get off fossil fuels, he says.

We need to pay the Third World a “climate debt” or “climate reparations,” since it is the United States, along with other industrialized countries, that have done almost all of the environmental destruction, while at the same it is the people of the Third World who are suffering the most from it, he says.

And we need to explore the “positive, even utopian, possibilities for a post-petroleum, post-mega-mall world.”

“It is clear today that the past two centuries of capitalist development,” Tokar writes, “have created the conditions that threaten everyone’s future.”

That sure seems to be the case in Pakistan right now.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “Back at You, Robert Gibbs!”

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.

Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by the police in the United States.

Darren Wilson is free to go back to his job policing the citizens of Ferguson, if he wants. Michael Brown is dead...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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