“Climate is Gone” in the U.S.
“Climate is gone,” said Karl Rove after last week’s Mid-term elections. He was commenting on the fact that the coming terms of office for House, Senate, and governor positions are heavily right-wing, which will ruin nearly any chance of passing a strong climate bill through Congress. He is confident. And he is pleased.
He is confident that climate is dead because he knows of his party’s reputation—anti- climate, or anti-environment. But this reputation is wrong. To be anti-environment would be anti-human. Environmentalism is significant to every man woman and child because environmentalism is the heartbeat of our existence. It cannot be avoided or ignored.
Karl Rove is pleased that climate is dead because to him, “climate legislation” translates as “more government control.” That is all. Climate change is not so much an issue to be dealt with; it is political rhetoric that can be debated and won. The problem is not Karl Rove’s poor judgment on global climate issues; I imagine him an intelligent enough man not to forget that the state of the Earth directly affects the state of the human. The problem is that global climate change has been grouped together with other political issues, something that can be signed off, authorized, funded for and fixed; something like abortion that can be allowed or not allowed. Climate has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with the global human condition. Perhaps Karl Rove’s misinterpretation of what climate legislation would bring is strikingly spot on— government should not have primary involvement in dealing with global climate change; a collective movement of the people is most essential for any immediate and lasting progress.
Karl Rove’s words couldn’t be more poignant to the dilemma of our age—the climate is dying.
Change cannot depend upon one individual.
“That government is best which governs least.” Spoken like a true opponent of more government control, Henry David Thoreau elaborates on the forgotten empowerment of a nation’s citizenry. Regarding the citizen’s recently adopted apathy in place of national governance, he states, “They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but do nothing in earnest and with effect…At most, they will give up only a cheap vote.” We have willingly put the health of the planet in the hands of the few; we give them our tax dollars to decide our children’s future. We debate but we no longer act. I like to think Karl Rove meant this all along, but disappointingly assume otherwise.
We elect a government to represent its citizens, not to stand in place of its citizens. Obama didn’t chant, “Yes I Can!” It is “We the people.” And only we the people, working earnestly and effectively together will have any chance of solving global climate change. In the unlikely union of wisdom, between Karl Rove and Henry Thoreau, their dictum reads, “Climate is dead if we give up only a cheap vote. Climate is dead if we hesitate, if we regret, if we do nothing in earnest and with effect.” This is a powerful statement. It reminds us of our individual and collective power. It points to the challenge ahead. It demands the end of social apathy. It calls attention for us to make haste, to act wisely, to pass along a healthy heritage for coming generations.
A week ago, we elected the men and women we most wish to represent us. The results of these elections may or may not serve the best interest of the climate, but it doesn’t really matter if it does or not. It doesn’t change a single aspect of what we are still capable of achieving. Even if the most ambitious climate legislation were passed, it would mean absolutely nothing without the consent of the common citizenry to implement the legislation into action.
So where do we begin? In history’s most recent people-powered movements, it was the immediate and demanding dilemma we were faced with that triggered the people’s inherent empowerment. Racial inequality sparked the civil rights movement; the required draft during the Vietnam War inevitably empowered peopled to take a stand against the war; the domestic terrorist attacks of 9/11 instigated widespread patriotism. Agree or disagree with any of these movements, the point is clear—dilemma evokes empowerment. Karl Rove’s words couldn’t be more poignant to the dilemma of our age—the climate is dying. Rather than firing further mockeries between right-wing and left-wing politics, we need to begin acting, moving, declaring our civil rights. Let us not hesitate; most of all, let us not later regret ignoring the opportunity we are presented with now.