The 112th session of the United States Congress doesn’t convene until January, but the GOP is already flexing its ignorance.
Last week Republicans announced they would be scrapping the four-year-old Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming because it was created by the Democrats to promote “job-killing national energy taxes” and they wanted to save taxpayers money by reducing frivolous expenditures. They announced this folly with deadpan earnestness, as if it were their solemn duty to be purposefully obtuse — part of their party platform, a matter of principle or an impassioned lack thereof. And of course that’s exactly what it was.
For all the weeping and gnashing of teeth they cued up for the cameras regarding the economic trials and tribulations we’ll be passing on to our great-grandkids through deficit spending, they are voluntarily heedless of the ecological calamities our descendants will inherit due to our dithering.
I realize this Democrat-created committee probably amounted to little more than a token gesture toward the cause, but at least it acknowledged global warming and our untenable reliance on fossil fuels. At least it placed these issues in direct proximity to our legislative process, where they might accidentally slip into serious discussions.
The GOP and most of its supporters keep squealing about the costs of being environmentally conscious and crying about insufficient evidence regarding climate change, but exorbitant costs and lack of evidence didn’t stop them from invading Iraq. Remember the “one percent doctrine”?
Also known as the “Cheney Doctrine,” it stipulated that if there was one percent chance that Iraq was working on nuclear weapons, we had to treat it as a certainty in terms of response. It basically gave the Bush administration carte blanche to invade Iraq if so much as one moldering Nuclear Valdez cassette tape was found in a dilapidated Sony Walkman in a Baghdad back alley.
There’s clearly more than a one percent chance that human beings are speeding up or exacerbating the conditions responsible for global warming and that these conditions will lead to catastrophes that could make the threat of nukes in Iraq or the deficit spending during the Great Recession look as profound and menacing as the flutter of Bristol Palin’s right eyelid. Where’s the prudence, the caution, the weeping? Is that only reserved for scare tactics?
So be it. Here’s something scary.
The twilight of the idle ones is approaching. Our parents and grandparents had the luxury of growing up in a time when the fact that we were imperiling our environment was not widely known or understood. Most of us would love to have been afforded that sense of existential innocence, but it’s impossible to recapture. We can no longer ignore the fact that our natural resources are finite, our habitats fragile, and our ecosystems delicately balanced. No future generation will be able to live as recklessly as their forebears did.
If we ignore the preponderance of evidence regarding climate change and the implications of global warming, the last thing our descendants will have to worry about is dealing with the federal deficit. At our present rate of consumption, waste, and resource degradation, we’re only a century away from a self-induced ecological holocaust. And the point of no return may very well be reached on our watch.
We need to start using less and wanting less. Extravagance should invite societal shame, not envy. Increasing profit margins at the expense of our ecosystem or our own work force should be grounds for prosecution, not promotion. We need to limit population growth; preserve our natural ecosystems; invest in renewable energy sources; detoxify our rivers, streams, and other water sources; stop overfishing the oceans; eradicate industrial farming; eliminate corporate personhood; restrain corporate multinationalism; dismantle our for-profit military-industrial complex, etc.
You can’t pretend to care about what’s going to become of your great-grandchildren if you’re unwilling to address global warming. You can’t claim to care about the future of this country if you’re not committed to steering it toward cleaner power sources.
A revolution in thinking must be achieved. We must replace fossil fuels. We must learn that less is more. We must re-learn how to live in harmony with nature.
Many of the myths we hold dear must be put to the guillotine. If the United States does not lead or at least join this revolution, it will likely go the way of the USSR. And rightfully so.
E.R. Bills is a Fort Worth-based writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications.