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Re: SC54

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November 29, 2007 04:50PM
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/11291

Wake-Up Call

I'm looking out my window here in southeastern Pennsylvania at a wild cherry tree that, on November 28, is still covered in green leaves. A butterfly bush nearer to the house is still blooming. We have yet to have a "killing" frost this year in this part of Pennsylvania, though just five years ago and earlier, such frosts were the rule by mid October, and sometimes even came at the end of September.

Out on the street, two lines of cars and trucks are completely halted in their tracks because of the shutdown of nearly 10 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike following a fatal accident involving a semi trailer-truck and three cars that has closed all lanes in both directions for the whole morning, throwing the morning commute entirely onto back roads, which themselves are the scene of countless accidents. Standing at the end of the driveway, I find that half the vehicles stranded on the road within my field of vision are gas-guzzling SUVs and vans, every one of them carrying one frustrated commuter--the driver--and spewing out volumes of exhaust for no purpose other than keeping the car and driver warm and the radio running. The autumn air reeks of car exhaust.

Both of these situations are reflections of a major crisis that is confronting all of us. The earth is rapidly getting hotter, in large part because of the unrestrained use of carbon-based fuel by mankind, and especially by us Americans, and it's getting hotter much faster than even the most pessimistic environmental scientists were predicting even as recently as two years ago. We all know this. And yet like the cars stuck on the turnpike and outside my house, we as a polity and a society are seemingly incapable of doing anything about the mess we have made of our lives, our kids' lives, our country and our planet.

We are stuck in our vehicles, listening to the mindless drivel on the radio, and we are stuck in a socio-economic-political system that is doing nothing about this crisis that is cooking the planet and that is in fact hell-bent on keeping us in our cars or glued to our TVs to the bitter end.

Meanwhile there is an election campaign underway, in which the leading candidates of both parties are basically saying nothing of consequence about this crisis. Instead they are talking about taxes and terrorism and immigration (if they are Republican candidates), and about health care and drivers' licenses for immigrants (if they are Democrats).

Excuse me, but I'm 58, and it looks like in my own lifetime, if I stay healthy, I am likely to witness the disappearance of the North Polar icecap! Do you hear that? It's also looking like I may even witness the disappearance of the one-mile-thick Greenland ice sheet, in which case, with oceans rising 18-20 feet, I will also witness the disappearance of Brooklyn, Staten Island, what's left of New Orleans, a good deal of Florida, and much of Philadelphia. I may even end up owning a piece of beachfront property, given that my house sits at about 20 feet above what is currently known as sea level.

Sea level--a term that use to denote something constant and unchanging, like air pressure or gravity.

How is it that our politics can have become so debased and trivialized that with the country and the very earth facing a cataclysm for which the closest parallel is, ominously, the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, our candidates for president can't even discuss the issue? Oh, the Democrats might talk about mandating slightly higher gas mileage for vehicles, or if they're really daring, about establishing cap-and-trade rules for power plants and factories, but of course that isn't going to turn this crisis around. Nothing short of a new economy, based not upon growth and on massive energy use, but upon sustainability and an altered value system that doesn't equate consumption with happiness and success, will save us..............

................What would happen if a candidate were to stand up in one of these "debates" and say:

"Just shut up for a second Wolf! I have something real to say here.

"My fellow Americans, we are facing a national emergency. A global emergency. Unless we act decisively this next presidential term, it may well be too late. The current administration and Congress by January 2008 will together have squandered eight critical years, but we will not squander another. Accordingly, my administration, on assuming office, will immediately issue an executive order adding a 100 percent tax on gasoline at the pump, with all funds to be dedicated to research and development of non-carbon energy and mass transit. I would further establish a federal tax on all new vehicles, with a sliding scale based upon their actual gas mileage. There would be a federal tax credit for scrapping cars, also based upon their gas mileage, to encourage the destruction and recycling of older gas-guzzling vehicles.

"Additionally, there would be a tax on electricity, with every household allowed a certain basic amount tax-free at competitive rates, after which there would be a tax on higher usage, again on a sliding scale. Home heating oil, natural gas and propane would also be taxed at 100 percent, but with a federal tax credit, available to all taxpayers regardless of income, of $750 per individual or $1500 per family to cover basic heating needs.

"Older power plants that emit excessive amounts of greenhouse gasses, and that cannot be upgraded, will be ordered closed within one year.

"Except where safety demands action all federal funds for highways will be diverted to construction and restoration of mass transit systems, and to subsidizing fares.

"America will also begin immediately withdrawing its military forces from the over 700 bases it currently operates overseas, and the money that is saved by that drawdown will be used to help developing countries reduce their carbon emissions--a national security threat that far exceeds any other.

"The Iraq War will be ended immediately, with all troops brought home in the first two months of my administration. At the same time, the overall military budget would be slashed by 50 percent, with the savings diverted to veterans' benefits, education funding, bolstering the Social Security system and expanding the Medicare program to cover all Americans. Finally, income tax policy will be reformed with a goal of slashing rates for those families that earn less than $100,000 while raising rates for those who earn more than that, on a progressive scale. No longer will tax policy reward or encourage wasteful and conspicuous consumption.

"The NAFTA deal and other international trade pacts that encourage American companies to shift investment and jobs overseas will be terminated and the National Labor Relations Act will be reformed to make trade union membership more widespread and easy to achieve. Companies that violate labor laws will be made liable for serious fines and triple damages.

"What do education, social security, health care, labor rights and income tax policy have to do with global warming? Simple. We need to change America from a nation of selfish strivers, each trying to out-earn, out-consume, and out-live each other, to a nation of people who care about the welfare of each other and our little planet. People who know their kids are going to get first-rate education, right through college, who know that their health care will be available when they need it, who feel secure in their jobs and who don't have to worry about surviving in their old age, will be freer to think about solving the crisis that threatens the survival of their children and their children's children.".................

Right now, the endless growth, mass consumer affluent world that is blind to every warning sign shows every indication that that the " lemmings headed for the cliff " senario will prevail in the end when it comes to humanity being wise and sensible in saving itself from the mayhem it has created on this sphere. Build some manner of lifeboat for yourself if you can, while you can, because the longer you wait, the harder this will be to accomplish, and even then, there is no guaruntee at all that your world won't be rocked severely, in the next few decades, or sooner, perhaps much sooner.
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SC54

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