Monday, February 20, 2017

If you're not angry, disgusted, outraged, and inspired... you're not paying attention.

I would like to preface this by the fact that I have learned more about politics in the last month than in my previous 28 years. I have heard a lot of radio stories from both sides, done a lot of reading, and listened to worries and hopes of people from diverse backgrounds in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, New York, and Massachusetts, in addition to countless other opinions I've read on my Facebook feed. 
In the past month I have cried for future generations, and for students in New Mexico who have so many hurdles to gain a general education. I have strengthened my stance that education affects everything, and seen and heard the dramatic actions and beliefs caused by people who have lacked access to a holistic education. 
In the past month, I have come to some conclusions about our current political climate

  • I am a part of a growing minority. 
  • The things I care the most about, environment and education face irreparable damage for the sake of wealth. 

I have thought a lot about what I can do. Protest? Cry? Yell at people? Practice my aim? Argue on Facebook? Alas, although it seems futile, my main objective in this life is to perpetuate knowledge. So here goes.

It seems our nation is easily distracted by media cycles on Russia and Sweden, and Muslims. While some may brush this off as something happening "somewhere else," and other's feel the connectedness of these and other countries to our global economy, there is historically little media coverage on the climate anomalies and catastrophes across the United States. Weather is usually confined to local news, causing people to miss the opportunity to connect the dots. 

In the past two weeks, here's a brief look at what has happened to our Environment.

In California, atmospheric rivers are helping relieve drought and cause flooding. To me this is an awesome example of the highly complex systems that aid in our Goldilocks planet. There are dozens of systems that impact the climate of our Earth, and people that spend their life studying them. Unless you have a degree in atmospheric science, please keep your global warming attributions or denials to yourself until you consult a professional. 

In Australia, thousands of bats literally dropped out of the sky after searching for shade and fanning themselves. As a native Texan I initially scoffed at complaints of how hot it's been in Australia for their summer, but this is a valuable reminder that we are not the only beings on this planet. However we are the only beings capable of telling ourselves that this isn't our fault, and turning away from the responsibility.

In the House of Representatives, 225 members of the house voted to overturn a federal rule (crafted over years by wildlife managers at the US Fish and Wildlife Service) to stop denning of wolf pups, killing of hibernating bears, and targeting grizzlies from aircraft and shooting them after landing, among other cruel practices. "Some members favoring the Young resolution cloaked their vote behind the mantle of states’ rights." While I'm still trying to learn the benefits of this stance, it doesn't apply to the National Wildlife Refuge referred to in this bill. 

In the Southwest Power Pool region, (a large swath from North Dakota to Montana and New Mexico to Lousiana) wind power constituted over half the energy least for a few minutes. After hearing a report about Trump's promises on the future of Coal industry, I'm reminded of the power of our dollar. We can vote every day by making informed decisions and choosing consciously what we pay for. 

In Colorado, and all across the US, insect populations are slaughtering forests. This is directly related to our rising climate because cold weather used to provide trees with an opportunity to build defense and communicate-- yes, communicate with one another to warn of attacks. Now the lack of a long winter season means that trees are not only fighting non-stop, but tree-boring insects are having two breeding cycles within a year, causing twice the damage. I hope I don't have to explain the importance of diverse forests to our country and world.

In the northern alps, a glacier that has been retreating for decades is revealing gruesome artifacts, including corpses, from a WWI battle. Perhaps this is a silver lining? Until you think further on the effects of retreating glaciers...

Perhaps the most disheartening thing I've learned from the articles I've read and radio segments I've heard, is realizing that American's care less about environmental protection. I think this is partially attributed to our education, where students in an economics class are prompted to consider only the cost and the personal gratification of a decision, not the effects to others and the environment. I also think this is a product of our success at managing Environmental dangers. Since the Clean Water and Clean Air act passed in the 70's, rivers that catch on fire and unrestricted pollution pouring out of smokestacks in industrial areas have curbed. But the battle is far from over. I have read a lot of about the environmental injustices of our decisions. Mostly poor communities are shouldering the health problems and eyesores that people with greater income are able to ignore.

Tonight, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse explained the power of Corporate lobbying. Outspoken environment-hero Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Senator who lost reelection to a Tea Party candidate likely because of his anti-fossil fuel stance is an example of our trending trade-off for increased money to futile industries at the cost of our natural resources.

You can read all of these articles with skepticism. You can, and should, research the funders of scientific reports that come out (as scientists are often targets of corruption as much as politicians). But to me it comes down to this. What do people have to WIN by denying climate change and approving legislation that destroy our environment? More wealth in their pocket, decreased regulations, money money money. What do people have to gain by protecting our environment*? A lot of uphill battles, hard work, and spending. But the rewards are emotional, and mental, not economical. I will always side with the people making decisions with their heart over those making decisions with their wallet.

Knowledge 'n Action Equal Power
*Apparently their are environmentalists that stand to make some money of fear-mongering, etc. I've read that Michael Crighton book. But the majority of the people suffering climate change have no voice, and nothing to gain from our warming earth, save a few shorter winters before we all cook in Earth's oven.

I'm trying to hear many points of view on this. If you've read this far, you likely are too. I would love to hear your thoughts, challenges, and articles.


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