March 4, 2013. On the issue of Climate Change, the science continues to tell us, no longer if, only a question of how soon, before dramatic changes in our environment occur. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have added 41% more CO2 to the atmosphere, and that rate continues to accelerate.
A new climate study only confirms the strong connection between the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the rise in global temperatures, just as Al Gore argued in 2007 before Congress, and also one of the core messages he articulated in his film, An Inconvenient Truth.
Even when a strong consensus amongst the world’s leading experts exists (as it does with the issue of climate change), why do we still choose to ignore the overriding evidence, and continue along an opposing course that clearly is destined to fail with the consequences arguably so high?
Where are the folks that once argued for the urgent need to attack Iraq, and that the costs would not be high? Whatever happened to David Stockman and the other economic supply side theorists of the 80’s that advised us that increasing the profits of the super rich and multinationals (by cutting their taxes), would trickle down to the masses? Or, on the flip side, whatever happened to the likes of Ross Perot who argued against the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because it would promote the loss of good manufacturing jobs in this country—unbelievable, but that “sucking sound” of lost manufacturing jobs turned out to be precisely what resulted!
And now today, how do we view the Republican Congress almost singular obsession with reducing the national debt at a pace that will likely slow the economy down further? Why do we ignore the advice of distinguished economists who argue that our obsession with the budget deficit is ill-fated, misconceived, and ultimately self-destructive? Look at the countries in Europe that have most embraced the so called “austerity measures.” To a country, their economies have worsened as they have swallowed the bitter “austerity” medicine: Greece, Ireland, Spain, Britain, the list of countries goes on. Perhaps, more telling, the two countries that bucked the “austerity” directive, Argentina and Iceland, have turned their economies around.
Perhaps the larger issue: how do we encourage good political decisions that promote the public good, and hold our politicians accountable for their actions, even years after they have left office? Here’s an idea: every 3-5 years, we pick one defining issue of our time, and assemble a team of historians to investigate the issues in depth from all sides, interview the key participants involved, and examine the public record to piece together the individual facts into a coherent whole. Then, after a final report is assembled and written, present the summary findings on national television and YouTube to serve as the public record on the matter.
If we are going to continue to make bad political decision after bad political decision, let’s at least acknowledge our past mistakes, and keep an accurate tally of those who through the benefit of time were proven mostly correct, and conversely, those whose accepted council resulted in harm to the nation.
However we accomplish it, it’s time we embraced as a country—to make it a civic duty—a careful analysis of our contemporary history. If not as the final arbiter, at least, as a true north reading: are we heading for the shoals or toward open pasture?
As sheep, being led astray, really does matter.
Fred Gerendasy is co-founder of Cooking Up a Story. Although bull-headed, and opinionated, his contrary nature spurs him to continually reassess the world-at-large and to appreciate through reading and talking with others that we have the power to solve most of our pressing problems. All that appears to be lacking, is the political will, civic integrity, and an engaged citizenry to intelligently do so.