A few people have accused me of being, not just a liberal, but an NPR-listening, MSNBC-watching, anti-religious, feminist, tree-hugging, Left-loving, “user-loser-chooser” liberal.
To which I reply − and your point is…?
Actually it is just very few people, mainly old white guys I knew in high school, comfortable in their prosperity, and here and there a bomb-throwing troll on a Facebook public forum. These are guys who usually hang out on pages I don’t go to involving Fox News, guns, and how taxes should be abolished. (Though I shouldn’t forget the rare but memorable righteous female, high on religious extremism and reality TV.) I confess, I readily dismiss these yahoos, impatient that they don’t “get it” so we can move on to the most important stuff.
I am sick of arguing reproductive rights with them. That revolution has happened in the West and is ongoing in the rest. Women are rising worldwide. The generations of girls we have raised are not about to accept a reversal of decisions made back in the 1970s. In this country, no one can force you to use birth control or get an abortion, but you don’t get to decide for anybody else. A woman’s highest calling is not being a mom unless she decides it is. A fetus, much less a zygote, is not a legal person. Get over it already, we have more important stuff to deal with.
I’m tired of them leaving their religious dogma in my yard, mouthing off against my LGBT friends about who they are allowed to love and telling me how to greet others over the holidays. I’m outraged that they resist teaching the truth of evolution [“Evolution is a fact, not a theory”, said Carl Sagan. Natural selection is the theory as the mechanism to effect evolution. This can’t be repeated enough!] and I can only deduce that pure ignorance is their reason. If they want to espouse such wacky ideas, that is their privilege in this country, but please let’s keep it out of public streets, it’s tacky and embarrasses the US to the world community. And there is much more important stuff to deal with.
And I’m sick and scared and outraged about the goddamn guns. Look, shooting is not my cup of tea, but I accept the existence of the second amendment. Still, in the ‘60s, there were hunters and soldiers and straight-arrow geeks in the school rifle club (I have pictures) but everything seemed pretty cool (or maybe I was just young enough to be oblivious). Then the NRA starts waving the flag to cover up the truth that the firearms industry which funds them has saturated our country with weaponry. Currently there are 310 million guns and only 300 million people in this country − and this doesn’t bother some gun owners? When you look at the statistical realities of crime and gun deaths, how can a reasonable person not support reasonable legislation? But that’s a whole other blog, and I am still impatient to move on to the really important stuff.
Which is − I just read that NASA’s division known as “CARVE” (Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment) has been flying the first of several fact-finding missions over Alaska and the Yukon (“the Great White North”) and their data reveals that the arctic permafrost is melting at a much quicker rate than anyone previously estimated. Massive amounts of CO2 trapped as methane in this vast area are poised to be released into the atmosphere, a critical factor to accelerating temperatures of global warming that exacerbates the ice melt, extreme weather, rising sea-levels and desertification it brings. As Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr Malcolm said about T-rex in Jurassic Park, “I’m fairly alarmed here.”
Researchers at the University of Cambridge UK developed an algorithm to calculate the economic impact of methane release. Considering the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, “just this area’s methane alone – some 50 billion tonnes, or 50 gigatonnes − would have a mean global impact of 60 trillion dollars, an amount very similar to the size of the entire global economy last year. Current US national debt stands at a mere 16 trillion dollars in comparison.” The costs calculated relate to “extreme weather, poorer health [outcomes] and damaged agriculture”. The researchers refer to this melting as an “’ economic time-bomb’ far outweighing any ‘short-term gains from shipping and extraction’.” The melting of arctic ice would devastate the global economy.
I’m saying that the bullshit about social issues is distracting us as citizens of the planet from finding solutions to global warming. Let’s face it, we’re pretty much toast as far as the “will it or won’t it” happen goes, anymore. Anybody who tells you otherwise is hopelessly misguided or practicing mendacity to protect their immediate financial interests.
We passed 350 ppm in 2012. Right now we need to get moving on technologies and policies that will let us cope and survive as a species. I believe the US needs to lead a movement dwarfing the Manhattan Project to identify ways to generate, store and transport energy generated from non-polluting, alternative sources. We must direct our productivity and our smartest people to tackle the situation with the same drive and urgency that retooled Detroit for the WWII effort.
I’m saying that the social issue bullshit is a smokescreen, planted by the interests that make money from belching carbon − untaxed and mostly unheeded − into the atmosphere. It’s distracting us from this hard truth staring us in the face.
We have the brains and the facilities, and maybe enough time. We should have the cooperation of other civilized nations because we are all in this together. As a nation, we surely have the money, if we could just quit giving it to military contractors to squander over Muslims still squabbling about ancient tribal divisions. Such a challenge will take a leader with charisma and vision not seen in American politics since the ‘60s, and it will be a painfully hard climb with no guarantee of success. The time to get going is now.