Twilight of the Idles

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 relayed this folly with deadpan earnestness, as if it was their solemn duty to be purposefully obtuse; as if it were part of their party platform, a matter of principle or 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 idle dithering.

I realize this Democrat-created committee probably amounted to little more than a token gesture towards 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 with our legislative process, whereby they might accidentally slip into serious legislative discussions by osmosis (if nothing else). This committee was a step, however infantile.

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 1% doctrine?

Also known as the “Cheney Doctrine,” it stipulated that if there was 1% chance 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 a yellowing Nuclear Valdez cassette tape was found in Baghdad.

There’s clearly more than a 1% chance that human beings are accelerating or exacerbating the conditions responsible for global warming and these conditions will probably lead to catastrophes that make the threat of nukes in Iraq or the deficit spending that occurred 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 weepy, teeth-gnashing humanity? Is it only reserved for scare tactics?

So be it. Here’s something scary.

The twilight of the idles 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’re running Eden into the ground. We can no longer ignore the fact that our natural resources are finite, our habitats are fragile and our ecosystems are delicately balanced. We aren’t going to be able to live as recklessly as previous generations did.

If we ignore the preponderance of evidence regarding climate change and the implications that global warming portends, the last thing our descendants will have to worry about is dealing with the federal deficit. They’ll simply be trying to survive.

There’s no reason to sugar-coat things. 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 in our lifetime.

We need to start using less and wanting less. Extravagance needs to invite scorn and shame, not envy. Rapid, incessantly rising profit margins need to begin to be treated like unsustainably high blood pressure, not a healthy pulse. We need to limit population growth, preserve our natural ecosystems, invest in renewable energy sources, detoxify our rivers, streams and water sources, ban industrial fishing, eradicate industrial farming, eliminate corporate personhood, restrain corporate multi-nationalism, dismantle our for-profit military-industrial complex, etc., etc.

You can’t pretend to care about the quality of life for our 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 towards 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.

Materialism must face the guillotine. Capitalism must be pilloried. If the US does not lead, or at least join, this revolution, it will likely go the way of the USSR. And rightfully so.

The clock is ticking.

E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo, Texas and the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (History Press, 2013). He can be reached at: erbillsthinks@gmail.com. Read other articles by E.R..

8 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. MichaelKenny said on December 18th, 2010 at 8:14am #

    I’m always slightly amused at the way Americans always quite unselfconciously assume that the US is supposed to “lead” whatever is happenning in the world. It’s a bit like asking why the Soviet Union didn’t lead the fight against communism! The US is the problem and, for that very reason, cannot be the solution. A Soviet-style implosion seems inevitable.

  2. Don Hawkins said on December 18th, 2010 at 9:47am #

    There’s clearly more than a 1% chance that human beings are accelerating or exacerbating the conditions responsible for global warming and these conditions will probably lead to catastrophes that make the threat of nukes in Iraq or the deficit spending that occurred during the Great Recession look as profound and menacing as the flutter of Bristol Palin’s right eyelid. Bill’s

    Well put.

  3. Don Hawkins said on December 18th, 2010 at 1:09pm #

    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.
    Materialism must face the guillotine. Capitalism must be pilloried. If the US does not lead, or at least join, this revolution, it will likely go the way of the USSR. And rightfully so.
    The clock is ticking. ER Bills

    That is called the truth and yes we are out of time. As it stands now millions will not make it along with many life forms other than human’s. Anybody seen the weather on the West Coast here in the States or in Europe today another one of those 100 year storms is it. This will take an enormous effort and like ER wrote part of that effort will be to slowdown and just maybe the fight is on so the darkside of course will shape shift they are good at that and maybe we will here cap and trade sorry a joke on the human race remember the law of gravity. To tax carbon and return that tax back to the people will be one hell of a fight because it does begin the change from the old to the new and the old will fight back think Dinosaurs and right now these Dinosaurs think they still got us in the back of those devious little minds you know most people don’t know and will never know we control the media the information the bank’s they still believe our lies the illusion. I don’t think so more and more are finding out and not just about climate change but what these few are up to a sea of slums and a few castles along with LRAD’s as a start. So far they have decided to not try seems as plain as the nose on our face and remember don’t forget cap and trade will not work it’s called bullshit. It does appear the so called leaders in power now can’t handle the job it’s to big and requires reason known knowledge not sound bites so that does present a bit of a conundrum. Maybe a few posses the knowledge but of course can’t use it in that sea of bullshit. This is a tuff one.

  4. Don Hawkins said on December 19th, 2010 at 6:14am #

    The storms on the West coast the storms in Europe today is it climate change well yes it sure is and here in the States the Senate is acting like they are doing great things you know don’t ask don’t tell and maybe START. Well if we wish to survive we need to start alright. These human’s are for the most part lawyer types and or bread and butter men. They are the one’s who decided it was a good idea to be so called leaders in the State called America. The big push will be on from these few to keep us in ignorance and they will spend billions to do just that. Here’s maybe a better idea a group of the best minds we have today hell we don’t really need an election I mean what for so they can send us all into hell. Could the President declare a State of emergency like in the last big war number two maybe a few minor changes like instead of army’s of men killing an army for the big changeover. I’ll bet a lot of you will say oh that’s nut’s we don’t need that we still have 50 year’s wrong we have about six years and need to start today so maybe the so called leaders can stay at work forget Christmas think take out but in the real World they will go home and a few close friends many pat’s on the back maybe John Kerry will take a sail in his new $7 million yacht John is a bread and butter man. Heck maybe these few will make call’s over the holiday’s for the up coming election for money the billions to keep us the people in ignorance. Get out the vote well so far I like the lady who think’s the Earth is 8 thousand year’s old or that guy who writes children’s books and think’s a few people should be put to death and play’s a mean guitar. Maybe it’s just me but something seems very very wrong with this picture. Somehow to turn on the TV and not see Joseph Isadore Lieberman and his little smiley face who I like to call blubber mouth could be helpful. And so it goes.

  5. Don Hawkins said on December 19th, 2010 at 1:34pm #

    {http://apnews.myway.com/article/20101219/D9K734E81.html}

    This was the top story on The Drudge Report. If Drudge will report this then what a good question.

  6. Don Hawkins said on December 19th, 2010 at 1:43pm #

    The Arctic conditions are set to last through the Christmas and New Year bank holidays and beyond and as temperatures plummeted to -10c (14f) the Met Office said this December was ‘almost certain’ to become the coldest since records began in 1910.

    ‘It’s going to stay like this throughout Christmas and New Year, but by the middle of next month things will slowly return to normal and we could perhaps see the beginning of the end.

    In a further development, the NHS issued an urgent appeal for blood donors as stocks ran low. Daily Mail

    Go shopping is it.

  7. Don Hawkins said on December 19th, 2010 at 2:09pm #

    Northern Australia had the wettest May-October on record, while the southwestern part of that country had its driest spell on record. And parts of the Amazon River basin struck by drought hit their lowest water levels in recorded history.

    White House science adviser John Holdren said we should get used to climate disasters or do something about global warming: “The science is clear that we can expect more and more of these kinds of damaging events unless and until society’s emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles are sharply reduced.”

    In both technological and natural disasters, there’s a common theme of “pushing the envelope,” Olson said.

    For example, even though it sounds counterintuitive, global warming likely played a bit of a role in “Snowmageddon” earlier this year, Holland said. That’s because with a warmer climate, there’s more moisture in the air, which makes storms including blizzards, more intense, he said. AP

    They forgot to mention praying for rain in the Middle East. I know maybe the G-20 could be a place to start and I don’t think they will need suit and tie, so what’s the big plan old boy’s.

  8. Don Hawkins said on December 20th, 2010 at 6:38am #

    Writers block