At some point years ago, an exhausted demonstrator warning of global warming probably set down his or her protest sign and sighed heavily, adding, “Those who think we’re kidding won’t believe us until they’re knee-deep in flood waters at their own picnic.”
CUT TO: Tampa, Florida. Exterior GOP Convention. Sign on door reads, “Monday is canceled because of violent weather caused by altered climate. The Oil and Coal Lobby Cocktail Hour will be moved to higher ground.”
For those in the GOP, or anywhere, who are still in denial about climate change and global warming I guess the next question is, “I’m sorry but what, exactly, will it take?”
Romney-Ryan (or as I’m starting to think of it, the Kraken…) believes that there is a jackpot of jobs waiting for unemployed Americans in the “development” of domestic energy supplies. Drill, baby, drill. Coal interests tout a “clean coal” that, so far, does not actually exist. “Energy security” trumps any concerns we might have that the weather we’re creating with our use of fossil fuels could ultimately destroy us… for $5 a gallon.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but because I’m on the road for two months with a tour of one of my theater pieces I’ve had to chance to sample some very tasty mass transit in various cities. In Seattle this past week, my cast and company arrived at the theater from our suburban guest housing by light rail… avoiding traffic, using energy efficiently. At the end of this week, we’ll all walk three blocks and get on a train that will take us to the airport in about 12 minutes… for $2 a person.
Denver, where we worked earlier in August, is deeply invested in light rail and mass transit. However I lived in Denver 20-some years ago and back then light rail and planning for the future was a long and contentious battle. CUT TO: Denver, the present. Someone drove us five minutes by car to a park-n-ride station where we then traveled comfortably to Denver’s huge airport for $3 a person. And in something of a modern day anomaly, that bus was EXACTLY on time.
My point, I think, is that planning for the future does take place in our nation and those plans do come to fruition and succeed. As Neil Armstrong’s passing just reminded us, JFK was able to inspire America to plan and execute on a voyage to the moon in something just under ten years. Why, then, do we seem unable to grasp the immediacy of global warming even as altered climate shuts down the Republican National Convention and ever-expanding hurricane seasons take their toll in lives and damage?
The easy thing here would be to portray powerful energy interests as greedy bastards who care only for profit and not a whit for the disaster they will leave behind after they have crossed the River Styx. I think that while it’s fun to think that people like Dick Cheney sit naked in a bathtub purring in ecstasy as servants pour buckets of gold coins upon them… those cartoonish emotions don’t serve us when it finally comes time to work in some organized way toward a common goal.
Back in the 1940’s and 50’s the auto, gasoline and tire folks worked together… to crush mass transit in cities. Stories that Granddad might have told you about the good old days of street cars and electric buses that took you “everywhere for a nickel”… they only seem like stories and not reporting because of the efficacy of the campaign to push individual automobile travel upon U.S consumers. But it takes two to tango and Americans did fall in love with the freedom of owning and driving their own cars.
Let’s assume that, despite long hours on the 405 where one can feel the life force drain from their soul during rush hour gridlock, we’re not going to quit our love relationship with cars. That means we must find some other means of powering them. I’ve been big on agricultural sources of energy because a real commitment there might save family farms, provide domestic energy security, burn cleaner and be greener… and most importantly get us off oil.
But then the oil we’ve been burning brings on drought, and now you can see heads turning away as you stand in the middle of a sun-baked corn field shouting “We can make this work!”
Meanwhile, despite how the weather showed them who was boss last week, you can bet that Republicans will continue to be in denial about climate change and pointing us toward the oil pumps owned by their supporters. How do we turn them? Shutting down their big national party in Tampa didn’t do it. Maybe someone high in the ranks of the religious right will have a vision that reveals to them the Lord’s displeasure with such things as Dodge Ram 350 horsepower turbo-diesel pick-up trucks carting a skinny country-western singer’s butt to the mall. And that vision will meld with a prevailing belief about life and there will emerge a clear and compelling argument: That even the planet Earth has a right to life.