Fact Vs. Opinion

I watched the above Ted Talk the other day featuring journalist Michael Specter.  The talk focuses on people that refuse to listen to scientific facts, an example being those that are anti-vaccine.  The best part was when he talks about how people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

We have had a cold spell in Texas recently and the usual people talk about how this disproves climate change.  Anyone that actually reads about this subject knows that weather and climate are two different things.  If someone doesn’t want to do anything about climate change, it may be foolish at best, but that is their opinion.  However, if they deny that it is taking place, they are completely ignorant of the facts.  It is either that or they are knowingly telling a lie.

Here is a link to NASA and other scientific bodies that agree that climate change is happening and that man is causing it:

NASA and Other Scientific Groups Agree Man-made Climate Change is Happening

The Past is Not Past

I spent most of the day either at rehearsal or learning about Stonewall Jackson.  S.C. Gwynne has written another captivating book.  I’m not far enough into it to feel that I can talk about it, but there is no question that Jackson was a “unique” individual.  Today was one of those days that slipped through my grasp.  One minute I’m drinking coffee and the next the sun is going down.

After this recent election, which seems to defy reason, I have been looking for answers about our current political climate in our history and culture.  How did we arrive at this moment in time?  Take climate change for instance, something for which Obama just made a great step forward with his deal with China.  (I am still reading up on our deal with China for more specifics.)  The fact that climate change is occurring is scientific fact.  There is some uncertainty as to the exact outcome, but don’t get confused by the word uncertainty.  Think about if a large rainstorm came in.  You know that the ground will be soaked, but you can’t say for certain if the big oak tree out front is going to fall over.  That however, doesn’t mean it is not raining.  Anyway, so science and all reason point to climate change happening, yet not only does a portion of the populace not believe it is real, but we have elected officials that are not scientists, that claim they know more than scientists, going to be in charge of parts of our environmental policy.

Now there is no doubt that these people are for the most part bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.  You don’t have to be Columbo to deduce that.  You also don’t have to be Columbo to figure out that the regions with the most jobs in the fossil fuel industry are also the regions that are most against us doing anything about climate change.  Yet I don’t think it is as simple as a mere question of economics.

From the very beginning of our country there is an element that is against any kind of centralized authority.  Part of our country also puts faith above reason.  I just read in the Stonewall Jackson book last night that in 1850 Florida only had 85,000 inhabitants and half of them were slaves.  It is hard to imagine that modern Florida, with Disney World and Miami and the countless beach resorts, was created in 164 years, which is the lifespan of two humans.  Go to Miami and think about how two lives ago it was a desolate swamp.  As far as civilization goes our country is but a baby.

I am still thinking about all of this myself.  I wanted to ask those of you that read this a rhetorical question.  How does our unique American history and culture affect the way in which we think politically?  Places that were settled by different ethnic and religious groups often ended up quite different.  Places that had to subdue the land and keep people oppressed often ended up quite different than places that were booming with industry.  All of these things factor into who we are now.  How so?

These Are Their Top Priorities?

I don’t understand man!  The other day I saw an article where Mitch McConnell said his number one priority was to, “Get the EPA reined in.”  Article:

Mitch McConnell Says HIs Top Priority is to ‘Get the EPA Reined In’

Now today the headline over at Huffington Post is that the GOP is aiming for a showdown over immigration.

GOP On Immigration Reform

If you think of all the problems that face the American people, are these really the most important issues that need dealt with?  In an era where climate change is one of the main threats that we face, do we need less environmental regulation?  The world is overpopulated and is only going to get worse in upcoming decades.  Pretty much everyone will agree that the pollution in Beijing, a place where it is already ridiculously overpopulated with not enough environmental regulations, is unbearable.  The EPA thing is pretty easy to figure out.  These Republicans are bought lock, stock, and barrel by the fossil fuel industry.  I would assume that the immigration is them pandering to their xenophobic base.

So with all the problems in the world, two of the GOP’s top priorities are to deregulate an industry that needs more regulation and to pick on already the most vulnerable people within our midst.  (If you want an idea of the hell that immigrants already live in, then read Matt Taibbi’s The Great Divide.)  I am never ever going to agree with the Republicans on either issue, but aren’t there other things that would be more of more benefit to the American people?  Like if these were issues 9 and 10 on their agenda wouldn’t it at least be less transparent?

I asked the other day for one person to tell me a positive thing that the Republicans wanted to do for the American people, and I know a lot of Republicans, and not one person replied.  I’m still waiting.  The Republicans in power represent the interests of the already powerful.  I have seen nothing that makes me think any differently.

America’s Growing Pains

I mentioned in an earlier post today that I want to read S.C. Gwynne’s new book Rebel Yell:  The Violence, The Passion, and the Redemption of Stonewall Jackson.  I also want to read Edward E. Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told:  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.  In truth, I’ve been thinking a lot about slavery and the Civil War since the election.

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog how Gwynne’s last book, Empire of the Summer Moon, shed light for me on the culture of Texas.  Because of the Comanche, early Texas was a place where survival was almost Darwinian.  Only the strongest or luckiest survived.  It is not hard to see in Texas, a state full of pride and larger than life characters, how the culture of the state could have come out of that world.

It seems that many of the problems that this country faces right now are due to a kind of super-capitalism, where market forces have overridden logic and reason.  Why is American capitalism so much more destructive than the kind that exists in Europe?  This is especially true if you look at what is going on with the environment.  This is also true if you look at America’s safety net compared with that of the rest of the Western world.  There are many reasons, but I can’t help but feel that culture is lagging behind history.

What kind of culture and economy did we inherit because of slavery and the civil war?  How did those two factors contribute to the making of modern America?

I was talking to a friend a few nights ago and we were debating politics.  We were comparing Europe to America and again asking the question of why, in certain ways, Europe is culturally ahead of America right now.  The truth is that Europe has its own violent and horrible history.  However, they have a much longer history than we do.  They have bled out several times over.  Much of what exists in Europe today is a partial reaction to the World Wars that were fought there.

Although Europe is doing certain things better than America right now, this does not mean that in the long scope of history that they are better.  They have had much longer to get to where they are at.  The problem right now is, in a world so interconnected, especially with problems like overpopulation and climate change on the horizon, can the world wait for us to go through our “growing pains”?

The End of Beaches

The end of beaches? Why the world’s shorelines are in serious trouble http://www.salon.com/2014/11/08/the_end_of_beaches_why_the_worlds_shorelines_are_in_serious_trouble/

The above article at Salon is exactly why we don’t need to be letting someone like Jim Inhofe in charge of environmental decisions at this time in our history.  

Jim Inhofe In Line For Top Environmental Job (Not a Joke!)

james-inhofe

Inhofe In Line For Top Senate Environmental Job

Big Oil servant and climate denier Jim Inhofe is now in line for the nations top environmental job thanks to the midterm elections.  I know the words environmental job and Jim Inhofe being put together seems like a joke, but it is not!  You can read an article about it at the link above.  If this isn’t scary, as now is a crucial time in our history to get our response to climate change right, I don’t know what is.

I need to start getting ready to go on the road.  I am going to try to get some more posts up later today, but it just depends on if I have time and service.  I’ll be playing with Shinyribs tonight and tomorrow.  Tonight is is McKinney and tomorrow is in Huffman.  For details go to:

www.shinyribs.org

I hate to be possibly leaving you for the weekend on such a bummer.  However, those of us that care about the environment need to find a way to contribute now more than ever.  Perhaps it is best to stew on such things for a couple days.

The Storm Of War

I just posted a link to an article in The New York Times about how climate change has been deemed a threat by our military.  Is it possible that our military might be right and that our civilian leaders, especially the right wing, who are tripping over themselves to deny climate change, could actually be wrong?  Could our leaders put our country, and the world, at great peril by not listening to the military?  Has anything like this ever happened before?

Strangely enough I just started a book called The Storm of War.  It is written by esteemed historian Andrew Roberts.  It has gotten great reviews not only because of the quality of Roberts writing, but also because of his excellent scholarly work doing research for this book.  One of the conclusions that Roberts comes to is that Hitler might have had a chance of winning World War II if only he had listened to the military.  Hitler was fighting a political war that was based as much on ideology as it was anything else.  His military leaders urged him not to start a second front against Russia.  However, Hitler was determined to have Lebensraum, or “living space”, for his Reich.  He also dedicated many needed resources towards The Final Solution that could have been used towards military aims.

Now don’t go getting your panties in a bunch.  I’m not comparing anyone to Hitler directly.  What I am saying is that when we deny cold hard facts for ideological reasons, we run the risk of defeating ourselves.