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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A modest wake-up proposal (with a tip 'o' the hat to Jonathan Swift)

The rest of the world simply can no longer leave it up to the United States, and its government, including the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, to depose trump.

There is a serious need for the world to step up to the plate recognizing the imminent and serious threat trump (and all other political decision-makers) poses to the environment of the planet. And, of course, given the availability to and access to legal systems like the International Criminal Court in the Hague, (the U.S. still is not a signatory), whatever proposal one might make would have to be ensconced in a literary model.

So, what would that look like?

If all of the agencies dedicated to the protection of the environment were to pool their resources, including their scientists, lawyers, accountants, statisticians, perhaps under an umbrella funded and co-ordinated by Michael Bloomberg and his foundation, and then create a movie script (or series) of an epic trial of trump (et al) in absentia, using the definition of a crime against humanity as the underlying pretext for the project, the  world would finally see just how close we all are to the precipice of our own doom.

“A deliberate act, typically as part of a systematic campaign, that causes human suffering or death on a large scale,” is the definition of a crime against humanity. Of course, historically, specific individuals have been charged and convicted of specific acts of mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing, tribal or terrorist killings, and the evidence has not been exclusively “circumstantial” as it would have to be in this case.

Nevertheless, from a literary, dramatic, and global perspective, this “proposal” references other literary masterpieces like E.J. Pratt’s poem, The Truant, or the epics of Homer, or the tragedies of Shakespeare. And, the literary model has the clear advantages of immediacy, relevancy, symbolism, erudition, imagination, universality and headline grabbing. And the current political morass that is the United States of America ought not to have sole responsibility for either the clean-up of the planet’s environment nor for the responsibility of ridding the world of trump.

He is a menace to the world trade order, to the system of immigration, refugees and asylum seekers, the nuclear disarmament initiative, the notion of racial integration and collaboration, and clearly all efforts to protect the people living now and in future generations from the ravages of climate change and global warming. And  add to that list the under-the-radar deviousness that he is attempting to turn the U.S. into a fully operational military materiel production machine, including his opening the right to publish specifications for a 3-D printer version of a hand gun on the internet. His “patsy” genuflecting before the NRA, as well as the Russian “spy” who has allegedly infiltrated the NRA on behalf of Russia and is now standing trial in the U.S. are more of the mounting evidence of some collaborative attempt to turn the country into an armed camp, obviously a threat to human life, in case no one has noticed.

Fires, drought, tornadoes, floods, melting icebergs and glaciers, and the combined impact of these “circumstantial evidence” events on creatures living on the earth, under the sea and in the air prevail hourly from too many quarters to permit the denial of “connecting the dots”.

The “dots” themselves are scorched communities, scorched millions of acres, towns and cities no longer habitable, in Ontario, California, Greece, and potentially many other sites at any moment. To be complicit with trump, and his terrorist gang of climate deniers any longer is not tolerable, or even conscionable. What is also unacceptable is to wring our hands and say, “What can I do?” when we all know that re-cycling, while noble, is merely a “drop in the bucket” of prevention. Electric cars, too, while honourable and worthy alternatives to fossil fuel vehicles, will take decades to become the norm. Local market farms, too, highly esteemed as legitimate efforts to erode the over-weening power of the behemoth argi-corporations (now proprietors of most seeds in the world), are like holding an umbrella against a hurricane. Non-profits like the Council of Canadians, too, while noble, honourable and separate from government, corporate and labour funding, rely on the donations of individual donors. And while they compile research and disseminate that data to their members and the world, they also have a limited impact, and could be invited to join this project.

Another ingredient now “baked into the cake of our political culture” is the world wide web, connecting every person (at least theoretically) in real time to the news from every share mile of the globe. Local and provincial/state politicians, as well as national leaders, while still somewhat relevant, have become restricted agents of all voting publics. And the restrictions are not limited to the local/national laws on the books of their respective jurisdiction. They also include the media pawns of the financial moguls who underwrite their business plans and the primary cheque-writers of their political campaigns. None of these restrictions could be permitted to impede or curtail the scope of this proposal.

We simply have to move out of our micro-focussed and micro-financed and our micro-ideological rabbit holes and join a global project if we are to have any hope of rising about the tide of political raw sewage that comprises so much of our current political debate.

Aaron Sorkin, for example, and Rob Reiner and Ken Burns, along with environmental experts like Bill McKibbon are prospective “brains,” writers, animators and energizer “bunnies” whose experience, reputation and networks would command the respect for such a project, while removing concern about the need for substantive funding. And the cast of characters could and should include the world’s people, from all corners and all strata, all religions or none, all languages and all ideologies. We are all ONE on this issue, and the sooner we begin to behave with that mind-set, the sooner we begin to recover our own immense power to influence events, another of the missing ingredients in our current hopelessness.

There is a significant hurdle to overcome: the risk that such a drama could arouse so much “fear and trembling” around the world that an onslaught on psychotropic drugs, including alcohol, marijuana and even opioids could ensue. Faced with the full dimensions of the danger, without a considerable amount of cognitive
“table-setting” to prepare potential viewers, such  project could conceivably also arouse political anger, disgust and resentment that protests could erupt on the streets of major cities around the world.

There have been reputable scientists like David Suzuki telling us that it might already be too late to save the environment from our incessant and unrelenting spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. His lament has hung over the planet for decades. Others also of note, have been sounding alarms even about the dangers inherent in a 2 degree rise in global temperatures. Reports of the Arctic’s icebergs and glaciers sliding into the sea continue as many of our ears grow increasingly deaf and immune to the danger; we have been hearing doomsday predictions for decades, so they have grown thin in our consciousness.

Naturally, politicians in many countries resist writing and passing laws that would hold their corporate benefactors accountable for their emissions. Even in Canada, so-called enlightened Canada, the federal government’s attempt to put a price on carbon is meeting strong resistance from at least two provinces, Ontario and Saskatchewan) who have signed a class action to take the federal government to court, calling the attempt “unconstitutional”….the word the provinces use for all federal initiatives they despise.

It is at least in part the short-term thinking, planning and acting, not a second beyond the next election, that limits many politicians’ “vision.” Self-interest of the political class that seriously handicaps the global survival needs and interests has to be confronted in a manner that wakens all people in all countries up from a shared and dangerous somnambulance.

Coal mining and burning has to be shut down; fossil-fueled vehicles have to be replaced by clean transportation including air transportation. The military establishments, especially that of the U.S. has to be compelled to transform their thinking and their need for fossil fuels, (and as a potential by-product, perhaps limit their pursuit of military conflict). If the personal health of individual humans has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to have resulted from the smoking of carcinogen cigarettes, and those companies have been forced to “cough” up billions to pay for health care costs of those individuals threatened, then is it not high time for the fossil fuel companies to have to come clean for having ripped all legitimate electric-powered engines from the market decades ago, as they consummated their ravenous rape of the planet with their deadly products?

One of the prime adages from the Bush administration’s boondoggle invasion of Iraq was the phrase “shock and awe” used as his bravado pretense to promise a very short and highly successful invasion. This proposal can be seen as a literary, creative, imaginative, high profile wake-up call to the leaders, the corporate boards of directors, the CEO’s, the institutions of governance around the world, including but not restricted to the Security Council, that the world’s ordinary people will no longer remain silent, on the sidelines, and complacent on the issue of the survival of the planet’s environment.

We are, as was the case in the proverbial story about the French Revolution, when a politician sitting in a pub saw a crowd marching down the street. Jumping from his stool, he cried to the bar-tender, “I have to go and find out where they are going so I can lead them!”

Today, we, the people of the world, are those people, and the politicians of all ideologies, ethnicities, religions, languages and cultures are sitting in that pub waiting for us to begin a very long march to show them not only where to go, but how to get there. And a television series, DVD’s, hard copy books, magazines and a longer term news organ dedicated exclusively to the threat/opportunity of global warming and climate change is another way to incubate a generation of activists, ready and unrestrained by that bane of too many western regions: political correctness.

That slogan has worn itself into oblivion. There is no time to wait. As Obama proclaimed on election night, 2008, “We are the change the world has been waiting for!”

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