Watching in horror as President Trump and Greed’s Own Party miscalculated that sacrificing USAnian lives to the COVID-19 pandemic would save the economy – resulting in unnecessary deaths, heartache and ever-extending economic chaos – has overshadowed other news. And now the president has unleashed his private storm troopers into our cities to create still another distraction.
Except for weekly supply runs and a ten-mile round-trip to see Neowise, I have been self-isolating, which isn’t much different than my normal life. As a result, mid-March seems to have been the start of one very long day. The postponements of Opening Day and the Indy 500 also eliminated familiar benchmarks from my calendar.
In April, I missed the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 crisis – “Houston, we’ve had a problem” – where NASA rocket scientists, working on the fly, managed to bring a crippled space ship and its three astronauts home safely. And, last week, was the 51st anniversary our Moon landing.
As we wax nostalgic about those days when USAnians valued science, let us also look at space travel in general. Brave men and women sit atop massive explosions and go hurtling into the void carrying their supplies with them. Living aboard the space stations is a slight variation, with transports ferrying in other provisions.
The commitment and courage of astronauts and cosmonauts cannot be underestimated. But, we Earthlings do share their basic situation. Earth rotates at about 1,000 miles an hour. We orbit the Sun at 67,000 mph. The Sun and our solar system orbit the black hole at the center of the Milky Way at 515,000 mph. And, the Milky Way itself is exiting the original Big Bang at 1.3 million mph.
Feel dizzy yet?
Before I realized he was likely the greatest poet of the last century, I encountered Rainier Marie Rilke in a course on existentialism with an excerpt from The Notes of Malte Laurids Brigge, wherein a character, Nikolai Kuzmich, suddenly became aware of Earth’s motions. The motion immobilized him.
I do remember one night when I slipped my left foot to the floor to stop my bed from spinning. But, that didn’t work for Nikolai. Everything was spinning. He remained bedridden for the rest of his life.
Yes, we Earthonauts are also space travelers, and we, too, carry all of our supplies with us. But, if we mismanage the environment that sustains our food supplies and us, there will be no new planets arriving to restock our larder.
Short-sighted Republicans, whose bottom-line fever endangers us all – and our heirs – act as if the global warming their policies promote will affect people in a galaxy far, far away, not here on the only planet we have.
Recent headlines report:
• ”U.N. warns of ‘global repercussions’ amid arctic heat wave” – NBC News.
• “Trump weakens environmental law to speed up infrastructure projects” – BBC
• “Trump to nominate anti-environment extremist as permanent public lands chief – Huffington Post
• “In ‘Targeted Strike’ against environmental and racial justice, Trump EPA curbs state power to reject fossil fuel projects” – Common Dreams
• “350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule” – The Hill.
Just as “There Is No Planet B” to rescue us, we can expect no help coming from the Republican side of the aisle.
Democrats, capable of looking beyond the daily financial ledger, offer plans to keep Earth habitable and the economy prosperous.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse on July 14, “White House hopeful Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious, $2 trillion climate change plan that would revamp the US energy sector and seek to achieve carbon pollution-free power in just 15 years.
“The clean energy proposal was fleshed out in a speech in Wilmington as the veteran Democrat drew a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump ahead of November’s election by arguing that fighting climate change would be a massive job creator under a Biden administration.
“Insisting that ‘there’s no more consequential challenge’ today than climate change, Biden pledged to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his plan, a dramatic acceleration of the $1.7 trillion he had proposed to spend over 10 years during the primary race.”
Clean up the planet, reduce the impact of global warming down to survivability AND provide an economic stimulus. That makes sense to anyone not tied to polluters’ donations.
Greta Thunberg, The Swedish Canary warning Earth of environmental dangers, was interviewed by Stephen Colbert July 21, the day after winning the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, the $1.15 million in prize money already earmarked for environmental groups.
She expressed her frustration at being invited to international summits, getting pats on her head for her dedication and then watching the adults in charge proceed with their planet-destructive plans. She said that the time has come “to stop pretending” the climate crisis can be solved within a system dedicated to the status quo.
While she has inspired people around the only planet we have, Ms. Thunberg said that when she began to her one-person protest, “I didn’t have any expectations at all. I just thought I needed to do something.”
Doing something does not guarantee doing somethin right. She recounted her sailboat trips to and from the U.S. across the Atlantic last year. Again, we have the vision of being on a ship – a spaceship, spaceship Earth, a sailboat – carrying all of your supplies with you. She described current inaction on the climate crisis as being on a boat in the middle of the ocean, getting cold and “setting fire to the boat.”
Earth is a giant raft traveling through space. We have all we need; just don’t let it go to waste.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)