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OK, I'm back. My burn-out lifted with a few extra hours of sleep and this cartoon and column by David Horsey.
If life were a movie, the president of the United States (probably played by Will Smith) would be leaping into action to save humankind from the calamity that a new scientific report says is about to befall the Earth.
A paper prepared by 22 international scientists and just published in the journal Nature warns that overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change have pushed the world toward a tipping point beyond which lie irreversible, frightening alterations in the biosphere that supports life on this lonely planet.
Of course, since this is not a movie and is, instead, just another surreal election year, the scientists’ alarming analysis will go unheeded. If the report is addressed at all by Republicans, it will be dismissed as another attempt by fiendish environmentalists to destroy the American economy by reining in polluting industries. If Democrats take note, they will tout their green jobs program as a panacea and quickly move on to a different, less disturbing, subject. [Emphasis added]
Yes. And yes.
Part of the problem is that Americans are by and large an impatient people. We insist on immediacy: immediate "solutions" to immediate problems and instant gratification. Deficit getting out of hand? Cut social welfare programs and taxes on the wealthy who purportedly provide jobs. What do you mean I can't have cheap gas to operate my beautiful new guzzler? Give tax breaks to the oil companies to provide more gasoline and roll back regulations on drilling operations. A national debate on environmental issues pre-empting "Dancing With The Stars"? Screw that. A long term investment to restore natural habitats and forests? What? That would have an impact on the next quarter's profit. You must be mad.
A larger part of the problem is a failure of leadership at all levels of government, which Horsey notes quite clearly. For every Bernie Sanders there's a Dianne Feinstein and a Max Baucus in the Democratic party, some 35 other Dems who keep checking their campaign funds, Joe Lieberman of the Joe Lieberman Party, and 47 Republicans. The numbers are even worse in the House, where other than the few members of the Progressive Caucus we are represented by two parties owned by the corporatocracy.
And the one institution which could bridge the gap has abdicated its responsibility. The mainstream press may have published articles about the report contained in Nature, but most, if not all, "balanced" the argument with the truthy responses of those who do not want their immediate interests impaired, the rest of us and our grandchildren and great-grandchildren be damned (as they surely will be). The only exceptions have been the cartoonists such as David Horsey. And that's one of the many reasons why I've taken to posting editorial/political cartoons as often as I can.
So, where does that leave us?
Well, in a conversation yesterday morning at Eschaton, noblejoanie posted this:
Nature notes: Watched a tiny eastern kingbird assail a bald eagle who must have done some nest robbing. Irate little bird actually surfed the back of the eagle furiously pecking his head for about 1000 feet. Saw similar outrage directed at a raven. Tough day for nesting kingbirds.
I consider that an excellent metaphor for the very least we can do, so much so that I've created a new label, "Kingbirding." I suggest that as often as we can we peck mercilessly at the heads of the rapacious thieves stealing from our nest for as long as we can. If nothing else, it will annoy them, causing them to spend their oh-so-precious-time trying to shake us off. Faxes, letters, emails, telephone calls, vigils, letters to the editors: they may be just momentary distractions, but at least we are doing something.
And we are bound by honor to at least try.