Curtain Raiser

The Incoming Wave, Colltalers

The threat of shutting down the U.S. government, by the GOP-led House, and the opening salvo of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, are set to dominate headlines in the week ahead, even though the costly threat is ultimately hollow, and the new policy may take a while before taking hold.
Of course, we’ll offer our two cents on these two issues, only artificially linked by the Republican shotgun tactics, mainly because the possibility of a U.S. handcuffed and unable to pay its bills is indeed a scary prospect for the rest of the world, let alone millions of already miserably poor Americans.
There is, however, another issue, way more transcendental, that’s been accumulating an impressive scientific literature of horror about it, and starting to dramatically increase its hold on the lives of not just Americans but literally, with no exaggeration possible, every living being on earth: climate change.
Let’s get rid of that loose change in our pockets, first. It’ll be cheap but not to worry: we’re already broke and sick of listening to the litany of terrible things that will happen either because of the Obamacare, or its one-year delay, and possible demise, as Republicans dream. It’s not going to happen.
On a practical level, the Tea Party, the Koch Brothers, and all their billionaire associates simply don’t have the votes to muscle their way in and prevent the law from going into effect. They lack a crucial ally in this fight, one that stands to still make billions either way: the insurance industry.
It’d probably be harder if the Medicare-like Single Payer idea, an altogether simpler, more cost-effective, and really universal way of tackling health care coverage, had won over over its competition, the system about to be adopted. Then again, more people would be behind it, so who’s to say?
Also, this idea of holding the government, and millions of citizens’ lives, under the barrel, so to get what two presidential elections, and 40-plus attempts to derail it have denied the GOP, has wreak havoc among the party’s rank and file, and even within it’s upper echelons. It’ll fail as it did before.
Much less talked about is the unnecessary, wasteful, and downright cruel, costs such futile exercises of ego-boosting politics imposes on the growing majority of Americans who have been increasingly depleted of even the most basic needs to survive, never mind of maintaining a semblance of dignity.
We may be in for a long, cold winter of high energy bills, delays in the processing of benefits, Veteran service cuts, slowdowns at emergency care wards, food assistance programs and work safety inspections, and don’t even mention parks, zoos and museums, among other indirect consequences.
Apparently that one thing that’s ironically saved us in the past, even if we can’t remember the last time we boarded a plane, won’t be able to save us again: the shutdown won’t affect air traffic controllers. God forbid it; that’d have grounded politicians in Washington and perhaps force them to end it.
If you say we’re out of luck, we’d say that you ‘ain’t seen nuthin.’ Confusion over health coverage, or how to choose one if you, like the majority, do not have a regular job, along with feeling hopeless about that callous, fully-covered Washington bunch we’ve elected, may mean little overseas.
For largely transcending our arguably parochial discussion over health care for Americans, and those who stand in the way of it, is the latest assessment report on climate changes, its fifth, issued by the IPCC, an international scientific panel set up by the United Nations.
In it, over 200 authors and editors, plus 600 other contributors, concluded for ‘unequivocal’ evidence of severe man-made climate change, with implications to billions of people around the world, as global sea levels will be rising at a much more accelerated pace than in the past 40 years.
Even though denial of such evidence, spearheaded by many of same characters now threatening to eliminate $40 billion in social programs that help the poor, has been a rigged, and heavily sponsored charade (see Koch, brothers), it’s the categorical statement that we’re the ones doing it what adds to it.
As the report proves with rigorous analysis that the culprit is the massive among of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that we throw daily into the atmosphere, it once again leads us all to a familiar smoking, in fact, smog-loaded gun: our addiction (and loathed self interest) in fossil fuels.
But before you consider that ledge, the report also points to practical ways that we can and absolutely must do to reset the doomsday clock, and head into another direction. Just like we did it in the 1960s about nuclear power. Ops, sorry, we shouldn’t have said that in the age of Fukushima.
Still, there are ways but they definitely require whole governments, not just individuals, despite the fact that they, and us, indeed count. We can’t imagine what we’d hardly even know about this issue by now hadn’t been for green activists’ efforts and grassroots environmental movements.
That’s what makes this foolish, if it wasn’t also tragic and borderline criminal, takeover of our political process to advance causes that polls disavowed several times over, so wrong in so many ways. Because it’s time and resources wasted that could be used to actually do something for everyone.
Perhaps if millions of dollars weren’t being thrown at the unrealistic task of defeating what yet another set of powerful interests is entrenched to defend, and in this rare case, so is some almost 30 million uninsured Americans, we’d be paying better attention to President Obama’s environmental record.
Because just as we speak, the administration is rumored to be working a backroom agreement that may lead to the approval of the Keystone XL project, for instance, a 1,700-mile long oil pipeline that will carry catastrophically pollutant crude from oil sands in Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.
Keystone which, even before being fully operational, has already caused major spills in its path, would be another step in assuring that the U.S. energy policy remains firmly hijacked by oil and gas interests, along with the already devastating hydraulic fracturing probes going on in the American soil.
It’ll be a week of a lot of political grandstanding, shallow media debates over whose responsibility is to give up on the well being of millions, and the general chaos that follows any new policy initiative of late. What will go on way beyond next Monday, however, is the climate change issue.
And that’s something that places Americans interested in doing something positive for the planet side by side with other citizens of the world, who most likely also have to deal with heartless governments and financial concerns way above their walks of life, but still believe that it’s a fight worth having.
Honestly, even though Colltales has signed hundreds of petitions and side up with progressive forces demanding change in Washington, we all know where that all led us. That doesn’t mean we should stop joining them. But there are other things we can also do with our scarcely available time.
Since the fight to preserve the Earth, and find ways of derailing this speedy train to ecological disaster, is one we take on behalf of peoples and species not yet even born, even some redundant proselytising may come in handy. There can no longer be doubts about who’s causing global warming.
So there can’t be any doubts either about who may be able, if at all possible, to reset this countdown. Sure it’d be great if we all had elected better leaders. Absent of that, obviously, it may be all up to us, that is, if we really give a flying, er, hoot? about the children of our grandchildren. Have a safe October. WC

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