Curtain Raiser

Close to the Edge, Colltalers

Almost all reasons triggering the climate emergency are man-made. But here’s one not usually mentioned with say, fossil-fuels reliance and greed: out short-span attention. It’ll be tested again at Madrid’s U.N. Climate Change Conference. Don’t fall asleep.
Americans proud of their democracy don’t seem to notice the president’s been undermining it. By reversing the demotion of war criminal Navy Seal Edward Gallagher, Trump showed confidence that neither Congress nor the Supreme will challenge him.
Sticking to domestic affairs, a week of heavy-hitting revelations about truly impeachable offenses have done little to his polls. It’s evident he sought the help of a foreign power to probe a political enemy, but supporters continue to cheer him up and the GOP is fine about it. Democrats may have looked on track to win in November, but once billionaires felt ‘hurt,’ all bets are off.
See, the mega-wealthy is very sensitive. It was enough for frontrunner Elizabeth Warren to come up with a clever plan to get them to pay back a share of their stratospheric income for their well-heeled troops to rally and fight back. Besides pathetic and utterly absurd claims that the 0.01% would suffer having to pay up, one was actually caught weeping on national television.
After a far-right push to crush civil and labor rights around the world with coordinated anti-democratic attacks, citizens pushed back and unrest has erupted in several countries of Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Apparently, that has scared powers that be.
So here comes the billionaires, those who have basically nothing to lose – some actually can’t spend or waste their money even if they wanted to – believing their riches are entirely the result of hard work, and not luck to be born on the profitable side of the tracks. They step in as if people should thank them because you know, if they can run a corporation, a nation should be easy.
That’s an incredibly myopic view of how society really works, and ultimately, how human beings will never react

like numbers on a balance sheet. It may not sound obvious but it’s hard to understate the average mediocrity of the ownership class. Dig a little deeper, and it’s a wonder how some even manage to remain rich. Not for their ‘powers of deduction,’ for sure. Ah yes, lobbying.
The most obnoxious, tragic, and unredeemable assumption most of that elite base their existence upon is, of course, the climate crisis. For how can they believe their wealth will save them when all else around them is drowning or burning to a crisp? Can’t they see what we see, that rising sea levels will disrupt food supplies and force billions of desperados to try anything to survive?
In fact, history and popular culture are suffused with an excess of dystopic visions of what’s coming, while there’s a deficit of views of a future when everybody lives and thrives, and climate change is just the biggest hurdle humanity has ever overtaken.
Moving on, and speaking of social turmoil, with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation, Iraq dives into yet another circle of hell. And things may get worse even as they’ve already started at a pretty low point. Since the U.S. invasion of the once-proud nation, a string of corrupt and incompetent leaders have led it into the ground. Now people want something else, though.
Not another puppet government, neither the tug of war between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, their friends, and relatives. And not another sign that the future has nothing good in store for them, either. Since they’re on their own, they’re hitting the streets and ducking bullets to demand justice. Yes, the death toll and the all too familiar violence are mounting. But silence is unacceptable.
Just like the latest explanation offered by Brazil’s President Bolsonaro for the fires currently erasing the Amazon: the culprit is… Leonardo di Caprio. Rather than digressing about such a ridiculous claim, let’s once more drive home the point: the world’s biggest rainforest, home of indigenous populations, uncontacted tribes, and an unknown number of species, is still burning.
A U.N.-issued report on climate change, released in anticipation of the conference that starts tomorrow, has shocked but not surprised many with its almost pessimistic overall tone. Things don’t work by themselves, and there’s a solar-powered yacht to anyone who can prove that governments committed to the 2015 Paris Conference’s goals have done anything about it lately.
The report calls for the 20 richest countries, responsible for over three-fourths of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, to do more and move away faster from fossil fuels. But since Trump’s pulled the U.S. from that agreement, even as it remains the world’s biggest polluter, and China’s efforts are dwarfed by their economic reliance on oil and gas, the outlook is indeed bleak.
That’s why the single-mindedness and clarity of voices such as Greta Thunberg and others are so relevant now. What the report does not spells out is what the young and the wise have been saying for a while already: ‘hey, this is gonna kill us all. And soon.’
Compared to the magnitude of what a climate catastrophe represents, to speak of an insignificant man doing all he can to destroy one of the most beautiful, humanitarian systems in history may sound shallow. Except that the U.S. president is, for all effects, the president of the world; at least no one has as many guns as he commands. And he’s a chance to stay in power beyond 2020.
That’s something that can’t be taken lightly. For his decisions may speed up even the darkest of the dark prospects a changing climate suggests it’ll become reality for the next decades. And he’s proven that, 1., he doesn’t care about what’s happening with the world; and 2., for such a person, the ultimate goal is to retain unlimited power, and remain in office for as long as he’d like to.
Renouncing an agreement signed by 195 nations of the world, to fight a potential civilization-ending cataclysm; disavowing rules protecting the environment; quitting peace accords with nuclear nations; breaking bread with homicidal dictators; denying rights to women, racial and sexual minorities, immigrants, asylum seekers; and now vouching for war criminals. That’s Trump.
He’s not well and neither are we, but at least for 10 days, leaders will be grilled on their commitment to saving the planet, and people will be asking what’s their excuse – if the media reports it, that is. Not the best we all could do but something. As we were reminded yesterday with the World Aids Day, we’ve got to prevail, ‘community by community.’ And we will. Cheers WC


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