Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Forget Terrorism and Focus on the Real Threat!

WMDs, Orange Alerts, Duct Tape, Homeland Security, preemptive attacks, Iraq-Al Quada, yellowcake uranium, "the world changed after 9/11," and so on. Is it just me, or does this administration come off as the slickest, slimiest type of used car salesman? I mean, how did they do it? How did they convice the vast ocean of red that is heartland America that it was time to batten down the hatches? Protect your family! they warned. An attack is imminent. Stock up on supplies: bottled water and, that true saver of lives, rolls of plastic sheeting.

Don't get me wrong. I had front row seats to the deadliest attack in U.S. history, so I'm not dismissing terrorism. I'm simply suggesting there is a far greater problem out there, and with this one the States can't take the typical, worn out "us vs. the world" attitude that has so endeared us to our international neighbors.

You guessed it: I'm talkin' global climate change. It's real and the United States, responsible for 25% of the world's total carbon emissions, is Public Enemy No. 1. Yes, there are still doubters and denyers out there, though this is a shrinking minority, and, yes, the auto and energy industries continue paying our politicians to ignore the problem, but pretty much anyone with a grain of sense would be disturbed by the city-sized sheets of ice that are regularly sliding off our polar caps.

Now, there are a lot of reasons why George W. Bush is a complete motherfucker, many of which have already been highlighted by McBone, but his assault on our natural world is perhaps the most heinous act of evil since taking office in 2000. And his wrongdoing goes far beyond his refusal to acknowledge climate change. He has actively sought to roll back environmental protections that have been in place since the 70s! So how is any of this going to change? Everyone knows he is in bed with the energy industry, that he is an oil man himself. Nothing is going to change until he is out of office.

Fortunatly there are activists working to reverse trends that make us fight immoral wars and keep us pumping poison into the air. Some of the more obscure names include:

Former Vice President Al Gore. Since having the election stolen from him, the world's biggest environmental superstar (I will refrain from calling him the Michael Jackson of global warming) has been working ceaselessly to raise awareness of climate change, and that is exactly what is happening. His film, An Inconvenient Truth, has transformed a somewhat abstract threat into award-winning pop culture. This is no whim for Gore. He has been working to curb greenhouse gas emissions since the 1970s!

Former President Bill Clinton. The ex-pres has jumped on the bandwagon, leading a movement to make buildings in the world's largest cities more energy efficient. Yes, he could have done more as president, a lot more, but better late than never (sorry Bill, still not voting for Hillary in the primary).

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. The leader of Americas biggest big city (and the city that was attacked by terrorists, incidentally) is making sweeping transportation changes to make New York greener. The city's fleet of gas-guzzling taxis will be replaced within five years by hybrid vehicles. By the way, Bloomberg is a billionaire republican, if you're still thinking that environmentalists all smell like patchouli.

Environmental catastrophe is a real threat, and denouncing and dismissing activists is not going to make it go away. This problem is a cancer that threatens every life (and not just human life) on the planet in a way that makes terrorism seem like a bad rash by comparison. Fortunately, it is a challenge that can be a true galvanizing force. By taking the lead in curbing greenhouse emissions, the U.S. can go a long way in repairing its international reputation.

So, what can we do as individuals? Start by supporting a candidate who is committed to this issue (run, Al, run!). Let's get these negligent, oilmongering bastards out of office and get to work. Then, spend some time on the climatecrisis website. Find out how much carbon your household produces per year and how to reduce your own carbon footprint. The site also provides easy ways to add your voice to the issue.

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