Curtain Raiser

Climate & the Stardust Dream, Colltalers

As hurricane Barry was making its way towards Lousiana’s coast last week, New Orleans was reminded of the trauma inflicted by Katrina in 2005. Barry’s still drenching the state, but mercifully, it all but spared the Big Easy.
Even powerful hurricanes eventually go away, though, unlike the climate emergency we’re facing. That’s why thousands of U.S. colleges are pushing for an action plan, and there’s a new fund helping raise awareness of the issue.
But the week had other themes, with higher or smaller degrees of concern and misery, worth going over before those headlines. Some, such as Iran, are bound to simmer for a while, but since it’s about nukes, let’s not be complacent.
The U.K., a nation with seemingly no one properly minding its business these days, has shown poor judgment again by seizing an Iranian tanker. All that it accomplished was to raise already high tensions between Teheran and Washington. Given the Trump administration’s own mess in the region, it won’t be easy to dial it all down.
In Hong Kong, protesters have spent the past month marching against a new extradition law, that even as it’s officially killed, it still haunts the liberal majority living in the China-controlled territory. No surprise here.
The authoritarian Chinese government would want nothing but to legally do what’s already assumed it does undercover: to bring dissidents to the mainland and shut them down. For that, it counts with a huge ally, the world’s indifference about China’s civil rights violations. But for now, HK activists are keeping the momentum from fading away.
Almost every summer, Rome and most big cities around the world come to a point they can’t handle the gargantuan amount of garbage they produce. The public health and stench

crisis will only get worse, but so far no amount of stink emanating from the Eternal City has led to solutions, or driven interest to tackle the daunting task ahead.
As societies still apply a ‘one-way’ approach to consumption, and impoverished economies no longer want to be dumpsters to wealthy nations, it’ll take more than anything mankind has ever done about its footprint on the planet, to solve it. At the moment, though, the U.S. won’t lead the search for solutions, despite being its chief culprit.
In a year, Americans produce more garbage per capita (807 kilograms of solid waste) than Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean combined, or almost twice what the rest of the world produces.
Despite the potential for becoming a dominant enterprise in the future, recycling lacks investments and political will to respond to the global crisis. Worse, corporations producing the bulk of garbage are still not required to play a role in recycling their own goods. Only accountability, of businesses and individuals, will turn this rotting tide.
Which brings us to floodings and downpours, loss of lives and material destruction brought about by hurricanes. And how such a drastic condition may become another year-round climate-triggered event.
‘Work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations.’ Over seven thousand colleges and universities have signed a declaration to address the crisis, outlined on a three-point set of priorities: going carbon neutral by 2030; mobilizing resources for research and training; and reemphasizing education across the board.
Congressional Democrats have also come up with a ‘Climate Emergency Resolution,’ that outlines ways the U.S. has to gather resources against it and to demand immediate action. It’s fittingly light on implementation details, just like the Green New Deal, as policies have to be all-encompassing but flexible to be applied locally.
And a new fund has just been created by a group of philanthropists and investors, to support efforts of groups focused on the crisis. One of them, Extinction Rebellion, has been particularly visible.
Their most distinguished aspect is how they enroll the help of regular people in their interventions. Rather than trained activists, most participants in traffic stoppages, for instance, or pointed protests at government facilities, are those who wouldn’t usually join street protests. We applaud their courage standing up for us all.
All of that is commendable, of course, but we still lack a global strategy to counter the climate’s disruption and its impact on the lives of millions. That’s why the U.S. has to rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Immigration raids are supposed to increase all over the U.S. this week, and so is resistance to this brutal, politically driven, and ultimately, ineffective Trump policy. Again, thousands of hard-working Americans will be chased down by a Fascist arm of the government, that has long ago abandoned any ethical and just principles.
As Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. World Cup Champion soccer team player, said on their victory rally, ‘it’s our responsibility to make this world a better place.’ And she’s delivered at least part of that. It’s our turn now.
Saturday will mark the 50th anniversary of the man on the moon, yet another promise to turn this into something better than what it was when we arrived. Even if the space adventure bellies an arms race and a deranged quest for global domination, it’s also an ideal inherent to being human: we do want to go back to where we once belong.
After all, ‘we’re made of star stuff,’ as Carl Sagan once said, sort of paraphrasing Shakespeare. Despite all disappointments, walking on the moon was a shining moment for humankind. Our moral task now is to save the planet, but if we manage that, we may be also ready to someday fly among the stars again. Cheers. WC

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