Friday, June 7, 2019

A Climate Of Lies

My upcoming newspaper column:
I’m just back from Boston, having accompanied my wife to her fiftieth college reunion. There, classmate Al Gore spoke about, no surprise, climate change. Nothing he said was surprising, though; not to those who’ve read the science and are awake to the disinformation campaign from polluters and their payees, which makes Big Tobacco’s campaign against cancer-causation seem like George Washington’s cherry-tree confessional.  
The science is clear. Everything happening has been predicted by climate scientists; their errors only in underestimating speed and severity. Drought, floods, cataclysmic rainstorms, stronger hurricanes, the Polar Vortex sending frigid air to North America, changes in ocean currents. Record-breaking heat, bone-chilling cold. 
Across the planet, it’s affecting food and water supplies, creating climate refugees by the millions, inflaming politics here and abroad. Honduras, for example, is among the countries most affected by climate change; from the resulting poverty and hunger, citizens flee to our borders. As with his policies in other areas, Trump’s climate denial makes our immigration problem worse. 
Iran, which Trump pretends wants war, is suffering climate-related disasters. Deluges inundate homes and buildings, wash cars and buses down city streets like corks, even as overheated farms die. A country suffering such conditions seems unlikely to attack us.  
Among Gore’s slides was a picture from space, of Earth and its tiny atmosphere. Our planet is rare fruit with the thinnest of peels; into this fragile layer of life-support we dump forty-billion tons of pollutants yearly. The heat energy added to the planet by human activity is the equivalent of five-hundred-thousand Hiroshima-type atom bombs. Every. Single. Day. If, as some say, only God can affect climate, that’s how He’s doing it.  
The morning after Gore’s lecture, the New York Times reported Trump’s redoubling his ignorant attacks on climate science and President Barack Obama’s carbon-pollution regulations. It’s madness. It’s dereliction of his sworn duty to protect Americans. Never mind his documented obstruction and attempted destruction of Constitutional governance: this alone deserves impeachment. It’s tantamount to premeditated murder.  
And, whether it’s just more of Trump’s insane need for revenge for President Barack Obama’s prior humiliation of him, or run-of-the-mill cravenness toward big-money donors to him and the Congress-dwellers who’ve sold their souls, it’s depressing as hell. Typical swamp politics, augmented by the delusional actions of a damaged human being. Who knows?  
More depressing is how easy it’s been for Trump and those who smuggled him into office to convince so many voters to spurn reality. And not just climate change. It’s broad-based, carefully-cultivated, factual illiteracy. Disagreeing with opinions is one thing; it’s what makes for the sort of useful dialog that finds workable solutions. But pigheaded rejection of facts is something else entirely. 
Is it that Trumpists continue to excuse his lies because they justify their empathy-free selfishness? (Some people don’t like my shared-hatreds proposition.) Those moral failings were always present; Trump just allowed them out of the closet.  
This strenuously-maintained disbelief applies equally to the Mueller report. Well-aware of the tractability of his supporters, Trump, aided by the least general Attorney General in decades, set the narrative before truth had a chance. Only days ago, after his stage-managed walkout on Pelosi and Schumer, for a “spontaneous” press conference, he arrived at a conveniently waiting rostrum festooned with signs lying, “No collusion, No obstruction.” 
By now, presumably because someone drew him pictures, Trump knows what’s in the report. Unless they’re as pathological as he, those repeating his lies cannot have read it. Moving their lips to words of another like ventriloquists’ dummies, they’ve chosen ignorance. After Mueller’s subsequent speech laid the truth out, they shouted, “La la la, we can’t hear you.”  
How nice if all discourse began with factually factual facts. Manmade climate change is real, it’s existentially dangerous, and it’s accelerating. Mueller documented multiple acts of obstruction and, but for destroyed documents, would have about collaboration. Before opining on climate, or Mueller, deniers ought to read the report, investigate climate science, and become enlightened. It’s what honest, truth-seeking, self-respecting people do.   
Al Gore ended with hopeful inklings: China and India, the greatest contributors to climate change, are converting to renewables faster than any other country. Europe is close behind. And, despite Trump’s efforts, the US is, too. Where people recognize and understand the future, his lies fail. 
Climate. Mueller. Unlike today’s Republican leaders, Democrats believe truth-telling makes better policy than lies. In Trump’s America, who’s right?
[Image source]


  1. This past week I heard a soundbite about the sacrifice the silent generation made during WW2, not just with lives given for a just cause, but also the rationing and service our civilians endured and gave for the cause. Could you imagine the same happening in this day and age? Not a chance. Most folks would be throwing hissey-fits if they didn't have access to their cell phones for 30 minutes. We probably deserve tRump. I'm starting to think, although depressing, perhaps humans, as a species, aren't worthy of saving (or saving ourselves). Which brings me to George Carlin. He always seemed to put difficult situations in perspective. One day we'll all go home, and I'm not talking about earth.

  2. I’m thinking us humans still have one foot in the evolutionary slime pool, right?

  3. George Carlin was a seer and teller.

    I think our evolutionary shortcomings are finally on full display: we've created problems we're incapable of solving: too selfish, too inclined toward magical thinking, too able to rationalize nasty behavior.

    So yeah: one foot in, and being sucked further back into it.

  4. Amen, not in the religious sense. It probably took two steps forward to get that one foot out of the slime, one step back is all it takes... In the day of social media and screen time controlling the narrative, the biggest sticks are now wielded by Fox, Sinclair, and foreign actors with disingenuous intent. It's all very, very, unpleasant. I struggle daily with trying to remain optomistic. I don't have much time left here on the planet, before going home, and I struggle with not finding hope, not dying a bitter and cynical old man. I struggle with the idea that humanity may have been doomed from the start. How most, can I be a good example to my children and the younger generation without the said bitterness and cynical nature? Or perhaps it's not even worrying about. Beats the shit outta me.

  5. First of all...Congratulations on over 550 comments at the local paper!

    (You have to post this'm being extra careful not to be too salty.)

    The news today is Mitch McConnell's wife is also his partner in crime. It seems there are more GOP to meet the irresistible force. The US justice system. Thus, ironically, draining the swamp as Drumpf promised us all.

    It's not over yet folks. There's good reason to keep your fingers crossed. But that's because we are still in the game. We can do this. We just can no longer 'settle'. We need swift, radical change.

    Put an end to wars fought for decades. Invest domestically in our people. Make policy less about us and more about us being a global juggernaut that only we can stop. A comprehensive energy plan for America would be nice to start with.


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