Curtain Raiser

Short-Changing the Earth, Colltalers

Many question having a date to focus on the environment, giving the catastrophic state of the planet, and world leaders’ lack of action on the climate crisis. But a year short of its half-century mark, let’s use the day to demand change, not simply dismiss it.
Specially as we remembered last Saturday, nine years of the worst oil spill in history, the BP-run Gulf of Mexico rig disaster, and the Columbine High School massacre, 20 years before. Sadly, there’s still no real good news about neither of those tragedies.
On that note, Easter started horrifically for Sri Lanka, with multiple terrorist attacks that murdered almost 300 people. Some fear the 3.000-year-old nation, and oldest Asian democracy, may be too vulnerable to politically and religiously-driven bloodshed.
The attacks may be out of some deranged jealousy, others insist, over the global outpouring of support to Catholics, following last Monday’s fire at 800-year-plus Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris. But terrorism doesn’t have religion, so what’s their point?
In other, seemingly lighter, news, Volodymyr Zelensky, who plays the president of Ukraine on a TV sitcom, just won the election to become the real thing. To supporters, he’s a fresh start, even without expressing his take on any of the country’s hairier issues, such as Russia, and civil liberties. But they sure hope that the comedian is aware that being a president is no laughing matter.
Back in the not so old U.S., Trump, the president who plays a con-artist in real life, seems to have beaten yet another attempt to expose his misdeeds. The Mueller Report, for all its scope and solid investigative approach, has so far not fulfilled its purpose. Even as a fact-full road map to restore truth and dignity to the office of the presidency, a thousand redactions notwithstanding, it didn’t pack enough punch to knock common sense into his political basis, or boost hopes for a new president coming 2020.
Around this time for two decades, we’ve been forced to go back to a terrible Tuesday when two teenagers killed 13 of their mates and school staff, in what was then, history’s worst school mass shooting. Hardly we knew then that Columbine wouldn’t be the worst for long. Not just many more, and deadlier, followed it, but its bottomless grief hasn’t moved congress to pass laws to prevent new ones.

Unlike New Zealand and Australia, clear instances when politicians acted as their voters’ true representatives, few Americans in position of power took the issue of gun control at heart, or chose to fight for sensible legislation as we so need.
On the contrary, survivors of the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, where 28 little children died in a quick flurry of bullets, and of the 2018 slaughter of 17 students at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, have had no political support even when holding mass rallies. It’s no wonder that there’s been a spat of suicides, likely out of despair, among survivors of those carnages.
Stats are heartbreaking. A 2018 Washington Post report lists an average of 10 school shootings in the U.S., since 1999, killing or injuring some 400 children. Proving that ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t work, there’s nothing in place to change this grim reality.
When the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, in 2010, it killed 11 people and spilled some five million barrels of crude oil, and 225,000 tons of methane in gulf waters. The impact was immediate and permanent. It killed almost 200 thousand turtles, for instance, wrecked havoc on marine, shoreline and wetlands wild life, and its long-term consequences are still been understood.
Oil giant BP, the rig’s owner, has spent over $60 billion in reparations and rebuilding efforts. But it all may get a bit worse with the Trump administration’s relentless drive to roll back protections, and open nearly all U.S. coastal waters to offshore drilling.
It’s hard to see how little has been done about climate change since the 1970s, when the first calls of ‘Save the Whales,’ and other rallies, called attention to the already developing disaster. Exxon and other oil mammoths already knew the nefarious impact their products could cause to nature. But they kept it a secret, while sowing confusion and unfounded doubts about the issue.
Last October, a United Nations study found that dire consequences of global warming are occurring earlier than predicted, and that we’ve got less than 12 years to radically reduce carbon emissions, so to avoid a calamitous rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Given the gravity of such situation, plastic, for instance, should’ve been banned by every nation by now.
Not even close. More people, however, are joining the trenches of the battle against the, hands down, biggest threat of our age. While some are trying to do it from the inside, by proposing new laws, others are picking novel, shocking even ways to fight.
In the U.S., the most comprehensive, far-reaching, albeit incomplete and flawed as it may be, piece of legislation, the Green New Deal, was proposed by a new crop of progressive women elected to the House of Representatives. Even as it’s struggling to gain traction there, it’s already popular, and has the support of environmentalist groups, from children activists to veteran dissidents.
That’s having a hard time being adopted by the entire Congress, it’s sad but predictable. It goes against everything that works well for established politicians, who favor negotiation and pace for advancing difficult causes. Problem is, we’re running out of time.
That’s why a group such as the Extinction Rebellion is becoming so successful drawing attention to climate change. Their rallies, performed mostly by common citizens, many of whom had never taken risks while protesting, have disrupted capital cities of the world, with simple but daring tactics: gluing themselves to city hall fences, for instance, or laying in the middle of major arteries.
At this point, we should all be considering strategies to force leaders and people we voted for, to start doing something radical about climate change, because everything else has definitely not worked. Or choose new ones, pronto, if these are not interested.
The week also holds another depressing date to mark: Friday’s 33rd anniversary of Chernobyl, our worst nuclear disaster so far. As it hasn’t happened again, though, to avoid another one, we must renew efforts to skip altogether this lethal source of energy.
Maybe April does have put ‘a spirit of youth in everything,’ to paraphrase William Shakespeare, born and died over 400 years ago this month. His 455th birthday is honored on the same 26th, but with him, there’s plenty to celebrate about the human spirit.
Reasons to rejoice are like shooting stars: far in between but eventually we get them. Today there’s a chance to see a lot of them, though, with the annual Lyrids meteor shower. Unlike the daylight blue meteor that exploded over Russia on the 6th, this show is more subdued, but easier to observe. Since ‘sweet lovers love spring,’ grab a loved one and feel young like the Bard. Cheerio. WC


2 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. Colltales says:

    So true. Thanks Micheline.


  2. On killing leads to another. Take the guns away.

    Liked by 1 person

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