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Thursday, 25 October 2012 11:05

Rule #1: Don’t Ask THAT Question at the Presidential Debates!

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Global warming can be characterized as an existential crisis or question of survival.  Granted, it’s not a sexy topic. On the contrary, it’s an immensely depressing reality, but that’s not why the question was censored at the presidential debates.  It was censored because we’re supposed to pretend that it’s not important or that it’s a hoax, that the melting glaciers and rising temperatures, the droughts, the floods, the uncontrollable fires—are Mother Nature’s fury, wild temper tantrum fits like something out of Greek mythology, an angry Zeus throwing lightning bolts or some such nonsense.  Presumably if the media censors the inconvenient truth about global warming, then the problem goes away, it no longer exists.  


Example: consider Fukushima, which is an ongoing nuclear catastrophe, three meltdowns with no solution a year and a half later on how to stop the atom-destroying radiation that is so immeasurably hot robots melt within seconds of entrance.  But because it’s censored, most people think it’s over, problem solved. In fact, to make the point that it’s not over, 36 percent of Fukushima children have abnormal thyroid growths likely from radiation exposure, based on the "Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey."  (BusinessInsider)


With global warming on the rise, we can expect more terrifying catastrophes such as Fukushima’s 2011 three nuclear meltdowns. This emergency crisis began from an abnormal (climate change) 9.0 earthquake and unpredictable tsunami.  Nearly 20,000 Japanese people were killed. If 20,000 people died from a terrorist attack, it would be highlighted in the news for decades. But if it’s a global warming disaster and nuclear power meltdown—blip! censored.


Nevertheless, Mitt Romney seems to be living in a different time zone, circa 1920, completely oblivious to the growing threat of climate change.  Even the Pentagon concluded several years ago that global warming is a far greater threat than terrorism. To date, we have never heard a presidential candidate campaign with such bold enthusiasm for oil and coal drilling the way Mitt Romney has in our entire political history to such extremes that you mistake him for a coal and oil lobbyist instead of a presidential candidate.


It’s astonishing when you stop to think about it—that a dozen or so billionaires are determining our fate like a death sentence hanging over every living being on the planet with the clock ticking, decisions that will radically change life to an intolerable existence—or worse, render survival impossible.  And no amount of wealth and power will protect any single person.  But they are determined to keep those profits rolling in. Listen to Mitt Romney at the debates and you’ll get a sense of their determination to go full speed ahead. They will go that far, they fully intend to go that far until there’s nothing left to take—until there is nothing left, period.


In his brilliant essay on the American poet, Robinson Jeffers, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Hass, suggested that Jeffers was as a kind of prophet deeply troubled by the human threat to the natural world as far back as the 1950s, “…imperiled by the rapacity and unconsciousness of the human usurpation of the planet.”


The unconsciousness of the human usurpation of the planet is a hauntingly accurate description of our existential dilemma.


There is nothing abstract about glaciers melting rapidly, enormously vital for our survival which keeps the atmosphere cool at a life-sustainable temperature.  There is nothing abstract about rising sea levels presently threatening small Pacific islands. As the glacier ice gives way to the last struggling polar bears, the oil oligarchs see the opening of the seas that were buried beneath thousands of  years of ice as an opportunity for oil drilling. 


The unconsciousness of the human usurpation of the planet.  They will go that far, and they fully intend to go that far until there’s nothing left to take—until there is nothing left, period.


The theologian-philosopher St. Augustine argued that evil is living in the absence of Good or God.   Perhaps that explanation will have to suffice for now.


Yes it’s depressing to learn that half the world’s population will face severe food and water shortages by the end of this century as rising temperatures increase the risk of drought, according to a study published in the journal Science.  Yes it’s depressing to learn that more than 81 million Americans suffer from pollution related illnesses. And more than 159 million Americans -- over half the nation's population -- live in areas with bad air.  (NRDC) But hiding our heads in the sand to escape the depressing news is an example of what Camus and Sartre meant by “bad faith” in which we voluntarily relinquish our freedom of choice to be responsible agents in the world.  The point is that we need to know the sobering truth so we can change the situation. 


Romney continues to deny the evidence that increasing renewable-energy jobs is good for the economy. 


Renewable Energy Boom Boosts Job Opportunities”

Increasingly known as the New Energy Economy, the wave of renewable-energy construction is creating a demand for workers trained in emerging electrical systems. Just as farmhands were retrained as factory workers during the Great Depression, electrical workers today are learning how to wire a solar system and how to maintain it, whether it’s on a massive utility scale in the desert Southwest or on the sprawling rooftops of suburbia.


Robert Redford reiterated the encouraging news in his HuffingtonPost.com column:


We've seen in the last stretch of this campaign that Romney will say anything to win, even if it's flat-out false. But we know what the real Mitt Romney would do. He'd gut investments in renewable energy -- including the wind production tax credit that 37,000 American jobs depend on -- while giving $4 billion a year in wasteful taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil, even as they reap near-record profits. It's no coincidence that those same special interests have donated nearly $11 million to Romney's campaign and the super PACs behind it.

President Obama “made the single largest investment in clean energy of any other president, helping to double the amount of electricity we generate from wind and solar, strengthening our global economic competitiveness and supporting nearly a quarter of a million American jobs.” (Redford)

Robert Redford got it right: “Mitt Romney will roll back every step of progress we've made -- not just in the last four years, but the last 40 years.”

The oil monopolists have held down clean energy technology for decades. They forced the auto industry to crush their electric cars that were made available two decades ago.  We have choices now, we can choose hybrid and electric cars, we can choose solar and wind, but if elected, Romney will do everything in his power to bury clean energy progress.  He even threatened to abolish battery companies for electric vehicles at the last debate.

I’ll conclude with some promising news: under President Obama’s leadership, the Bureau of Land Management is now moving ahead with a plan to protect some 11 million acres of critical wildlife habitat within the Arctic Reserve.  By contrast, Mitt Romney would immediately give all 11 million acres away to the oil industry, profits for billionaires, not jobs.


Jacqueline Marcus taught ethics and political philosophy for twenty years at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, California. Her book of poems, Close to the Shore, was published by Michigan State University Press. She is the editor of www.ForPoetry.com.