Why America ignores climate danger
I keep asking myself why the leaders of America and, to some degree, Americans are so indifferent to climate change: its fires and hurricanes burning forests, smashing small cities, flooding large cities and their subways, throwing cars in the air, and killing people.
These are not insignificant and accidental happenings and damages. These are extensive and destructive blows the ever stronger climate giant has been inflicting on America and the world.
So, why the political apathy that reached its destructive climax under the administrations of Reagan and Trump? Are Americans and their leaders and the rest of the people of the world and their leaders suicidal?
I don’t think so. The problem is more complicated. It’s laced as it is by the fear of most Americans for maintaining an income, and the greed, money, and power of the billionaire class. Furthermore, states rely on their militaries, not science.
For example, seeing the streets overwhelmed with cars every morning and late afternoon and after sheds light on this perplexing dilemma.
Cars are certainly convenient. You need not walk or ride a mule and a horse. Your mechanical horse will take you to your desired destination, fast.
Yet the inconvenient truth is that cars are the worst machines ever invented. Their engineers and manufacturers and their regulators decided the world outside the car machines has been a vast toilet for their endless deleterious emissions. They ignored humans and other life need a healthy atmosphere.
Cars atomize society. Everyone is acting / driving for himself / herself – minding their own business. The heads of these millions of drivers are full of anxieties about their “jobs” and countless other issues affecting them and their families. They listen to talk radio and large commercial television networks, dumbing them down and increasing their worries, making them even more powerless.
In such a state of mind, it’s impossible for the brain to be logical. Any thought that cars are polluting the very air drivers (and all living beings) breathe disappears. Connecting cars to climate change also becomes problematic and alien.
Car drivers, especially in large cities, have learned to tolerate congestion, anger, invisible and visible pollution, tiny spaces, and often degrading factory work.
What’s the business of America?
This dramatic decline in intelligence and democracy satisfy the leaders of both parties and America’s corporate class. They keep extoling the nonsense that the business of America is business. By which they mean the supremacy of the personal interest and ignoring the public good.
Whatever happened to our academics?
You would expect that the brain trust of the country, thousands upon thousands of scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and huge number of professors in hundreds of colleges and universities would be up in arms protesting the dark-age apathy of the country toward a real and clear danged from climate chaos.
Why? Because these millions of highly educated men and women have the knowledge or, at least, the rudiments of the anthropogenic origins of climate change / global warming.
They know or should know that the culprit of this massive crime against future generations, including Mother Earth, is the burning of fossil fuels. They know that driving gasoline-powered cars and trucks, electricity factories burning petroleum, coal and natural gas, factory agriculture and animal farms, also powered by fossil fuels, and armies and navies and air forces loaded with bombs and gigantic machines burning fossil fuels are the causes for the destruction of tornadoes, heavy rains, flooding, drought, massive forest fires, including increasing difficulties in raising food.
However, these clerks have been busy with fads. In most colleges and universities, for example, their priorities include the downplaying of the Greeks and Western civilization, teaching palliative courses to calm down the anger of minorities. Meanwhile, they vigorously continue serving the military industrial complex.
The honorable exception to this near academic aphasia comes from biologists denouncing the annihilation of animals and plants as well as climatologists who have been warning world leaders since 1992. They have been documenting the anthropogenic causes of the climate disaster, urging the removal of fossil fuels, at the latest by 2030, and their replacements with efficient and pollution-free solar and wind technologies.
Lobbying and capturing
The federal and state governments are largely captured by fossil fuel industries and their lavishly-funded allies in commercial media, universities, foundations, billionaires, medicine, law, big agriculture, other industries, and Congress.
With Reagan and Trump one knew immediately these actors were in the pockets of petroleum and coal. But with Joe Biden, the man, like his former boss, Barack Obama, is more complicated than Trump.
The tortuous silence of the Biden administration
Biden has yet to turn to climate change. He is buried in the pandemic and equity trap. Like professors teaching potentially interesting, though hardly important, and relevant courses, Biden is spreading good will but not wisdom. His administration pretends it is regulating polluters, though in mining, fossil fuel industries, agriculture, agrochemical industry producing warfare neurotoxic and carcinogenic pesticides / biocides, and transportation, business as usual reigns supreme.
Biden should not expect the EPA suddenly working on behalf of public health and the natural world. Decades of industry dominance of policy cannot be set aside overnight. He can simply order the administrator to get rid of all neurotoxic and carcinogenic pesticides. Americans would be delighted with such an order. EPA then can ignore the chemical and agribusiness lobbyists and immediately ban those terrible deleterious chemicals from the natural world and America’s food.
On September 9, 2021, I heard Biden on ABC News saying he was proud he sent 500 million vaccines to poor countries. That’s good. The more people are vaccinated, the shorter the deadly life of the pandemic.
He should now do the same thing with climate danger. Invite world leaders to Washington, DC, to construct and execute an enforceable treaty of phasing out fossil fuels in the next nine years, promising impoverished nations technical assistance to move beyond petroleum, coal, and natural gas.
At home, Biden can order the Pentagon to phase out its addiction to petroleum. He can also deploy the Pentagon and its vast resources in building an infrastructure for solar and wind power, while dismantling the fossil fuel guts of business and government.
This should not be seen as radical primarily because the Republican party and industry would rather ruin America and the world than seeing a reduction to their fossil fuel power and wealth.
Such necessary actions should take this country (and the world) beyond the make-believe rhetoric about climate change and insistence on merely building more defenses against winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
We need resilience but, above all, we need to change from defending the status quo to forestalling additional disasters coming our way. This we will be able to do once we get rid of fossil fuels and embrace solar and wind energy.
In the sixth century BCE, Athenians abandoned tyranny for democracy. That was really a radical departure from business as usual.
The twenty-first century demands a similar departure from the looming danger of fossil fuels business as usual.
Potential civil war helped the Athenians to embrace a democratic future. Now we have a catastrophic prospect that brings us the message for a better solar and wind future, if only we embrace a future without fossil fuels. The Sun, the wind, and a healthy Mother Earth are pleading we don’t ignore them.