Washington is not a place for sissies. It is a rough-and-tumble town where people might just kill their mother to get a seat on the bus. It has never been a town of altruistic behavior. Most people are out for themselves or are just trying to get re-elected to Congress. You expect that from living and working there; however this month's government shutdown reverberated in my very soul.
No, it is not the horror stories we hear from the Democrats about what happened to businesses or veterans or the opposing horror stories we heard from the Republicans about the effects of "Obamacare" and what a runaway budget will do to America. What is reverberating is the fact that no one did anything about this train wreck months ago. The fact that no one did anything is what scared people the most about this shutdown. It is that part of the human condition that lives in denial until it is late or too late to make necessary changes.
This denial and inability to deal with reality is what caused me to shake my head most of this month and wonder if we have the capacity to save ourselves. It was against this backdrop that my friend and radio/TV host Thom Hartmann asked me to see a short film he narrated, "Last Hours."
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The premise of the movie is that if we do not stop the increase in global warming, we will have turned the corner and reached a tipping point from which there will be no "cure" or way to save the living material (including humans) on the planet. It could very quickly reach a tipping point, Thom Hartmann says.
The movie shows the five previous mass extinctions and shows how quickly we can move into a sixth. The rising temperatures would release methane gases from the bottom of the ocean, and there would not be enough oxygen to sustain life.
You may think is a bunch of libs trying to stop good, old-fashioned progress and business. Many people have been lulled into inaction by this way of thinking. It was extreme "synergy" that I saw the movie the same week and that a new study was released on our increasingly hotter planet. This study, printed as an article in the respected science journal, Nature, says that a tipping point for our planet will be reached overall in the year 2047. At that point, the temperature will be much hotter than previous, and every single year will be hotter than in any of the previous years on record. The scientists who conducted the study also published a map of where the most impact would be felt and when.
Normally, like most of us, I would trust the world scientists and politicians to do something and find a way to decrease fossil fuels, use technology to increase the use of solar energy and find ways – such as bullet trains – to increase citizens' use of public transportation and decrease people's use of cars. Solar-energy development is not in line with the known technology, fossil fuels are not decreasing and the United States does not have one bullet train.
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My trust that we can really tackle this problem went away with this two-week shutdown. With Wall Street hollering that we can't default on our debt, it did not get Congress to agree until the final hour. If seven million people could not visit the national parks that their taxes paid for, employees at the National Institutes of Health were furloughed as were employees at the Pentagon, then what are the chances they can agree to save our planet?
Many of us are not hopeful. Congress saw this coming for months and did nothing. Committees argued so much they did not pass the required budget bills, and they have been in session this entire year on the taxpayers' dime.
We have a joke within the talk-radio trade that people don't want to hear about foreign affairs until they see a tank coming up their driveway. It is the same with global warming. No one wants to hear about it, and that includes members of Congress. We can only pray that by the time they decide it is important to pay attention to global warming that we have not passed the point of no return. That would make the shutdown or any default look like child's play.