Brainy Quote of the Day

Monday, September 19, 2016

Apathy's Aftermath...

At the City Market in Charleston, S.C., one of the most popular spots in town, shoppers dodged seawater that bubbled up from storm drains during high tide in June.
Credit Hunter McRae for The New York Times
Topics: Economy, Education, Climate Change, Global Warming, Politics

This Is What It Looks Like: That's the post I wrote for the impact of Hurricane Sandy, recalling my experience with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Yet Congressman Lamar Smith is not impressed [2]. We're at the point where only the blithely self-ignorant would overlook the signs. How many polar bears on receding ice, how many that turn to cannibalism to momentarily survive shall we ignore...until we cannot?

The problem is we all think in short-term: business quarters and targets; election cycles and not generational; not to posterity. As long as our hedge fund earns this quarter, or we win an election cycle, we're stupidly callous of the unintended consequences our actions have down-the-road. The only thing of concern in a self-centered culture is the immediacy of NOW. The fact that we have the equivalent of Cray Supercomputers in our hip pockets and a search engine that's eviscerated the need to memorize, take notes on or recall ANYTHING and the disdain of expertise in every sphere of endeavor: we have devolved, and it has obviously affected our politics.

A bigoted birther, bloviating, conspiracy provocateur and reality-TV star is a major party nominee and Keeping Up With the Kardashians is a top-rated show. Before the tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith, Bill Mahr reflected on his show "but, what does she do?" We are living in an epoch where fame is more important than skills one studies for, earns and has experience in. Young people used to dream of being astronauts, doctors or politicians: now they aspire to be reality TV stars. We are literally at a juncture in history where people are "famous for being famous" and nothing else.

The New York Times: For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.

Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes. [1]

The New Yorker: From climate change and evolution to sex education and vaccination, there has always been tension between scientists and Congress. But Smith, who has been in Congress since 1987 and assumed the chairmanship of the Science Committee in 2013, has escalated that tension into outright war. [Congressman Lamar] Smith has a background in American studies and law, not science. He has, however, received more than six hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions from the oil-and-gas industry during his time in Congress—more than from any other single industry. With a focus that is unprecedented, he’s now using his position to attack scientists and activists who work on climate change. Under his leadership, the committee has issued more subpoenas than it had during its previous fifty-four-year history. [2]

The Insider starring Russell Crowe was simply about the analogy to climate change denial in the tobacco industry. They both tend to use the same lawyers and disinformation tactics.

After seeking the expertise of former "Big Tobacco" executive Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), seasoned TV producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) suspects a story lies behind Wigand's reluctance to speak. As Bergman persuades Wigand to share his knowledge of industry secrets, the two must contend with the courts and the corporations that stand between them and exposing the truth. All the while, Wigand must struggle to maintain his family life amidst lawsuits and death threats.

I would hate to watch the televised Mea Culpa of Lamar Smith or other like-minded political figures that have pushed this mythology of climate conspiracy; about how they were wrong as "Super Storm _____" becomes the norm. I would hate to see the blank faces as military naval bases are damaged; as more conflagrations spurred by weather-generated lack of supply; the silence that speaks more volumes than the actual answer they cannot say...

"I don't know."

That will not be existentially, "good enough" or expedient.

1. Flooding of Coasts, Caused By Global Warming, Has Already Begun, Justin Gillis
2. The House Science Committee's Anti-Science Rampage, Lawrence M. Krausss

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