Floods in Alberta, with excessive and unprecedented rainfalls; floods in the upper mid-west in the U.S., with excessive dry heat in the southwest leading to premature and devastating forest fires; tornadoes in unprecedented numbers laying waste to more and more communities in the central-southern U.S.; hurricanes like Sandy pummelling the Atlantic coastline of New Jersey.....and no one is willing to say categorically that these climatic events are the direct result of climatae change and global warming.
Yet, we all know that something is far different in our weather patterns, and we all know also that human production of carbon dioxide, while abating in select areas, is also rising without the prospect of abatement in others.
And our political leaders, of all stripes, focus on the "economy, and jobs and prosperity" while they too must know that they are burying their heads in the sand on needed measures to slow and hopefully to halt those CO2 emissions. It is not that jobs, the economy and prosperity have no place on an enlighted political agenda; it is rather that our governments have to be able to "walk and chew gum at the same time"....and they are not either able or willing to do so.
There is a glaring and growing opportunity for political leaders of all persuasions to grasp, for their own careers and for the benefit of their constituents, in merging the need for jobs and the need for significant interventions to protect an environment that will not sustain the lives of our grandchildren.
China, the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, has shown signs of beginning to take this issue seriously, yet North American politicians, especially in Canada and on the 'right' in the U.S. have been hiding behind China's slow pace to curb emissions, uttering statements that our cutting back will mean little without the big emitters taking action.
Every single serious act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is another step toward both sanity and human health and protection. Obama's executive order requiring auto makers to double the gas mileages of all cars produced in the U.S. by 2020 is one bold step toward sanity and public health. Nevertheless, the lobby against taking additional steps is so strong that those working to protect and possibly even to save the environment are blocked at every turn, by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, whose workings began as a fundamentalist 'christian' effort to reduce the size of government and to limit the numbers of voters who exercise their franchise.
As the PBS program, Bill Moyers and Company, demonstrated, once again last evening, ALEC has members in the corporate world as well as in the legislative field. Many states' politicians are members, and the bills that they are generating in state legislatures are being designed, written and lobbied for to protect those corporate interests whose huge dollar contributions, all of them tax deductible, since ALEC is classified as an "educational" institution. In one state, the legislature has voted to spend public money paying for the memberships of their legislatures to join ALEC, as Moyers put it, "That's like tipping the thief for picking your pocket!"
Bils designed to create virtual (digital) schools, generated by ALEC, would flow public dollars into private school corporations, which would then teach the "ideology" of the corporate grail, generating more adherents to the religion supporting corporate profit, at the expense both of the public schools and the environment. Corporations like Exxon-Mobil, BP, Chevron and Koch industries have no interest whatever in measures that would protect the environment because such measures would restrict the consumption of fossil fuels. And those corporations have found a tax-exempt haven into which they can and do pour truck-loads of cash for the express purpose of derailing any attempts to restrain their pursuit of corporate profits, including the production and consumption of the very fuels that are destroying the world's water, air and land, on which all of us depend.
It is an old "song" and getting boring for both readers and those sensitive to the future of the planet, for their grandchildren. Even here, we have harranged frequently and as loudly as these keys will permit, on behalf of the long-term issue of environmental protections, that will, of course, cost everyone a little, including those fossil-fuel-addicted, and profit-addicted behemoths, in the short run, but may perhaps provide a longer term of health breathing in return.
The "public" in public schools, and in libraries, and in colleges and universities and in hospitals and specific services has to be maintained, if we are to prevent the surrender of our culture and our way of life to the private sector....and the private sector has no interest in the public's needs and the public good. Their focus, unfortunately and anally, is their bottom line, and they will go to considerable lengths to keep their investors' and their executives' pockets lined with dividends and bonuses respectively.
The public "voice" as in NPR in the U.S. and the CBC in Canada, both under threat from their respective governments, is one channel through which the public conscience is kept alive, and is spread to those previously tone-deaf to the need for them to become activists in the cause.
We can see activism in many quarters where it was silent previously; will we see it's birthing in North America, to the degree that the situation requires?