IBI Watch 3/3/13

3 03 2013

Calling All Trouble Makers //

Sure, as the old song says, more “love sweet love” would be nice. But what the world really needs now is more trouble makers of a certain kind. On this week’s Moyers and Company, we meet two such contributors from different generations.

First, another example of why I hold out so much hope for the younger generation’s opposition to pignorance (pretend ignorance). Here is a young man who has already contributed mightily to the cause of science and thought in his home state of Louisiana. Advocate Zack Kopplin is a 19-year-old warrior against, as the episode’s title states, “creeping creationism.” He is also putting a scare into the creationism creeps, apparently. He’s the first winner of a new award for young upstarts, the Trouble Maker of the Year. Here is hoping this lad has many more years of trouble to come.

Moyers’ other guest is an author I have featured before – Susan Jacoby. Here is a recent post where I talked about her newest book about influential 19th-century freethinker Robert Ingersoll. (See the lead story, “The Land of Make Believe.”) I can recommend an earlier book by this tireless advocate of freedom from dogma-tainted policy – The Age of American Unreason

We need thinkers and activists like Kopplin and Jacoby more than ever. Want proof? Try this story linking a certain news network with pignorance around tobacco and climate change. Or maybe this piece on how three states are pushing a poison cookie-cutter bill from our friends at ALEC on teaching pignorance in public schools is more to your liking. Wait until you see the Orwellian name for this stupidity campaign.

Snoozing or Shocking?

The news is full of sequestration frustration – so much so that we have tired of this seemingly boring story. Yes, the gridlock in Washington right now is the consequence of two opposing political philosophies, compounded by the fact that one of the parties has eliminated the word “compromise” from its vocabulary. But I sense something more sinister, and I am not alone.

After last fall’s election, I had to laugh when I heard positive spinners speculate on the demise of the government-hating Tea Party. Here is one example.  The Republican warriors in the House – they who stand firm and are currently allowing formulaic budget cuts to take effect (hoping blame the president of course) – are actually a majority/minority party. How so? This Mother Jones article explains the gerrymandering that yields a House strongly in Republican hands, despite compiled popular votes for the other party.  In other words, people demonstrably did not vote for the GOP approach. And this David Horsey column in the Los Angeles Times explains how the sequester actually plays into the government-haters’ hands. Now consider that the Tea Party, often portrayed in the media as some sort of populist uprising, is really anything but.

I think former Labor Secretary Robert Reich gets it right with this post. And Walter Hickey of Business Insider also lays out the series of clashes that lie just ahead.

My opinion – this is just the most recent, and one of the most extreme and consequential – example of the Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. In short, her thesis is this – corporate interests use crises, real or manufactured, to cripple the government and destroy the public sector, which must then be “rescued” by corporate interests which take over what used to be run by the government.

So we have a government paralyzed by obstinacy from a majority/minority party completely in the thrall of an unelected power-monger.

What is the solution? Who knows? But I do know this – meaningful progress on behalf of the common good will not happen until we get the big corporate dollars out of elections. Here are several worthy groups pursuing that laudable goal:

Climate Sell-Out Looms – Unless We Act

I hate to admit it, but the stars are lining up for accelerating climate destabilization. You can just sense the rationalizations for approving the Keystone XL pipeline. It looks like the State Department environmental impact statement will give its qualified blessing. Though that report is not yet public, it is already generating controversy and anger. And that comes after Nebraska’s governor altered the route to eliminate the Ogallala Aquifer issue from the mix. And all this will mix with the usual self-absolving blather about “energy independence,” “we need to help our ally – Canada,” “if we don’t get that oil, the Chinese will,” and on and on along the road to environmental hell.

There are many reasons not to approve, and not just the 40,000 protesters who let their opinions be known in Washington two weeks ago. NASA’s James Hansen has long articulated the case. And Bill McKibben has dedicated his 350.org movement to the cause.

Of course, all those reasons are up against the most powerful one – money. But it is too early to give up the fight. These folks certainly have not.

The “Grand” Experiment Continues

Here are this week’s examples of why climate action is imperative. Check this Global Possibilities page for an eye-catching vertical info-graphic that is full of climate change facts. We often hear how it is “too expensive” to deal with climate change. This article points out the toll of not dealing with it. This 90-second video explains the melting permafrost threat. For more depth on the same topic, look to New Scientist. And finally, if you think King Tides are some kind of surfers’ heaven, think again.

Of Horses and Space Chaos

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart had too much fun with two recent news stories. Warning: it is strongly suggested that you put down any hot or fizzy beverages you might be drinking before watching these videos, particularly the Russian videos of the meteor explosion. First-here is Stewart’s take on the ongoing horsemeat caper. And second – these videos shot from Chelyabinsk dashboards would give any outrageous Hollywood action film a run for its money. Remember – you stand warned.

Think Green and Early

If we are to have any hope of saving this broken place we call home, we need to encourage young people to think environmentally. Here is a thoughtful list of books to help in that quest. It includes many personal favorites, such as Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

“I doubt that most people with short-term thinking love the natural world enough to save it.” – E. O. Wilson

Contributed links to this posting – Allyson Harper, Brendan Murphy, Edrichus Sykes

 

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

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