Looking ahead to the new year, I’m trying to be optimistic.
We might survive turning public education into religious school, although there’d likely be a half-generation of kids who’d be lost before educators regain influence on education policy. Maybe humanity can even outlast more war in the Middle East or a new one in Asia, to which, based on Trump’s appointments and his personal lack of rigor, not to mention his half-cocked tweets, we look to be headed. And, having seen various rivers and lakes recover from deadly pollution in the past, perhaps it could happen again, if the offing of the land that appears to be in the offing is recognized by enough people to elect better stewards next time around, people who think the environment is worth protecting. Assuming we’ll still be having elections.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that even Donald Trump disapproved of the latest shameless digital frickative shown to America by Republican congressfolk when they decided, just in time for his ascent to office, to nuke their own ethics committee. Too bad he didn’t show the same concern when North Carolina legislators told their voters to shove off after they booted their Republican governor; or when his campaign co-chair from New York made vile comments about the Obamas.
Having never met an ethical boundary beyond which he wouldn’t go, Trump’s disapproval of the ethical edict was less about the action than the timing thereof. Still, the episode afforded a glimmer of hope. Enough people retched at the wretchedness that the lawmakers temporarily skulked away. A guidebook, one hopes, for the future, and a reminder to pay attention.
It all may be moot though, because that from which we’ll not be able to recover is the empowerment of climate change denial and inaction. Scientists (the people Republicans, almost to a woman and man, tell us are to be distrusted and disregarded) have been warning of the point of no return, as we approach a positive feedback loop that makes it self-sustaining no matter what we do or do not. Melting glaciers mean less sun reflection and more heat absorption by exposed land. Warming oceans and tundra release more trapped methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, causing more trapped heat and more melting, more warming...
Every month, every year, a new record for highest global temperature is set despite dishonest claims of a “pause." How much more obvious must it become before Donald Trump, his appointees, supporters, and practically everyone in his party acknowledge it? When did it become such an irreconcilably partisan issue? Why is ours the one developed nation that refuses to accept it; and where did the fossil fuel industry, the only people who stand to benefit from continued denial, get the power to control the argument?
The answer to that, at least, is obvious: they have the money, about which the elected of today’s Republican Party care more than they do about the lives of the population they’ve convinced to elect them and sworn to serve. Even less do they care about the planet on which many of us live. The current EPA refused Trump’s ominous demand for the names of its climate-change researchers. The next one, about to be run by a climate change denier, won’t. Because it’s not enough to deny truths that threaten the self-enrichment agenda; they must be hunted down and destroyed.
Having no time for security briefings, Trump has plenty to tweet about a bad restaurant review, and more than enough to tour the country holding the same self-congratulatory rallies he did before the election, wallowing in cheers, mocking those on the losing side, insulting the press that exposed his lies. Disinterested in healing, our president-elect, since November eighth, has been a neenering fourth-grader. (No offense intended to fourth graders.) Surrounded by rich sycophants on New Year’s Eve, he promised to cut their taxes, rid them of regulations, and end Obamacare, which none of them need. Climate change didn’t come up. Average people weren’t invited.
The long view is hard. Comprehensive policy is hard. Since winning, our president-elect shares thoughts one-hundred-forty characters at a time, as deep as he goes.
Optimism? What was I thinking?[Image source]