The need for worlds colliding

In 1995 there was an episode of Seinfeld called “The Pool Guy” but most likely recall it better as the Independent George episode. In the episode, Elaine becomes friends with Susan (Georges girlfriend) and this kills ‘Independent George’. Here is a good video snip. The core issue is that Georges sanctuary he has with his friends is no longer a safe place, he is able to be one version of himself (independent) with his friends and another version (relationship) with Susan and now ‘worlds are colliding’. This type of issue is common when we are not true to who we are and a recent article in the paper about the Minnesota House of Representatives got me thinking more about that.

The Minnesota House recently took a vote on the following sentence, “The legislature finds and declares that greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities are a key cause of climate change.” There was no policy and no money tied to this at all, it was merely an opportunity to acknowledge a serious issue. The vote passed, but sadly 50 of the 54 Republicans voted “No”. Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, these “representatives” of the people fell back to tired arguments about the ice age, the sun, the science being unsettled, and so on. Every single democrat voted yes and the way the votes fell along party lines got me thinking about the killing of independent thought. Our government and our country seem so divided currently that the default is to disagree or oppose whatever the other party is doing, or agree with whatever your party is doing, at all costs. What is really needed to let worlds collide and be true to who you are as an individual.

I have also been thinking that it might be time to break ground on a Climate Change wall of shame monument or similar. I envision some sort of memorial where future generations can visit and see the names etched in stone on a very public display and read archives inside an adjacent museum about those who continued to deny basic science in the 21st century. Regardless of if their motivations are ignorance, corruption, personal greed, mis-education, or just a basic lack of empathy towards civilization; the names below in red deserve a place on this wall memorial.

Lastly, I would like to send a thank you to the four Republicans who embraced their independent and relationship George and voted yes; Tony Jurgens (Cottage Grove), Dean Urdahl (Grove City), Nolan West (Blaine), and fellow Tesla driver Pat Garafalo (Farmington).

WorldsColliding

Let’s roll

A recent op-ed by Mark Reynolds of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is titled “To solve climate change, the passengers must now fly the plane”.  It does a good job creating a metaphor but I think there is one area that could use an adjustment.  Here is a portion of it:

When it comes to climate change, most Americans are like the passengers on a jetliner wanting to arrive safely at their destination but thinking there’s no need to be involved with the actual flying of the plane. The “people in charge,” surely, have things under control.

Lately, however, the plane has experienced a rough ride:

  • On Christmas Day, the temperature at Santa’s workshop – a.k.a. the North Pole – approached the melting point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, about 40 degrees above average for that time of year.
  • With 2016 hitting another high mark for average global temperature, 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred in the current century.
  • Floods, like the disasters that struck Louisiana and North Carolina last year, are happening as a result of unprecedented rainfall measured in feet rather than inches.
  • As we start the new year, 37 million people across Africa are without food because of crop failures caused by droughts and floods exacerbated by climate change.

All this turbulence is prompting some of the passengers to rise from their seats, walk to the cockpit and check with the pilot. Upon opening the door, however, they are shocked to see no one seated at the controls.  For a number of years, President Obama did his best to keep the plane aloft with executive orders to address climate change, chiefly the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at power plants. But the 44th president has donned his parachute and exited the plane, leaving the pilot’s seat disturbingly empty.

So, how do we avoid crashing into a mountainside?

It’s time for the passengers to start flying the plane, and by passengers, we mean citizens.  This entails setting aside cynicism about our government and engaging with people in Congress who represent us in Washington. Government will respond to the will of the people, provided the people tell the government what we want.

If we take a look at the facts, our current president has tweeted that Climate change “was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”, is a “Hoax”, is an “expensive hoax” and is “bullshit”.  He even tweeted “Not only are wind farms disgusting looking, but even worse they are bad for people’s health”.  Trump made campaign promises to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, has approved fossil fuel projects, has made staff appointments of outspoken climate change deniers, and placed restrictions on how scientific agencies can communicate to citizens.  The really sad thing is that with majority party control, making progress to address climate change presents a huge opportunity where the current elected officials could be heroes by following the CCL recommended and widely supported plan that would initiate significant job creation and shift the U.S. economy while moving towards clean energy. 

So back to the metaphor above.  I agree we are all passengers on the plane, the only problem is that from our seats we can hear that the captain is indeed still at the controls, we can tell he is there by his constant chirping over the PA system.  When we try to go have an honest dialogue, we learn that he has a likeminded flight crew, numerous DHS agents, and a legion of unconditional followers who will not hesitate to verbally abuse or attack the majority with a factual view of science.  As we listen to the chirps continue, we realize that a thin skinned unapologetic egocentric madman is at the controls; bullying anyone who asks tough questions or has an opposing view.  Relying on hope that someone close to him will get through to him and shift his mindset is not enough.  As passengers, we need to take action to prevent a crash landing that few will walk away from.  We can no longer afford to sit in our seats and listen to the same rhetoric and misinformation, it is time to get up and demand action; let’s roll.

Mark sums it up well by reminding us what Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart once said, “We aren’t passengers on spaceship Earth, we’re the crew. We aren’t residents on this planet, we’re citizens. The difference in both cases is responsibility.”