The insanity over Hurricane Irene (just downgraded to Tropical Storm in NYC moments ago) is another reminder of how selfish and short-sighted we are as a people in America. Weathermen have been sounding the alarms for the last few days and most people have heeded those warnings without much second-guessing. Sure there are those old people or angry people who are held up as silly for not heeding the warnings. While watching Fox News to see if they could find a way to bash Obama based on weather patterns, I observed Shep Smith basically go Drago on residents who would not leave Long Island or Queens; “if they die their funeral will not be free” and “they are stupid” were two of my favorite soundbites.
The basic lesson is that we will respond if we believe there is an immediate threat to our safety and/or material possessions. We will trust weathermen, who are to science what def poetry slammers are to art, because the risk is scary and immediate. No one wants to engage in a substantive debate or conduct more study to determine if they should stock up on water (or toilet paper for some reason to the people of midtown) and yet, climate change, which will cause more frequent and more ferocious weather-related catastrophes is something we cannot get people to mobilize behind.
- 4 out of 5 dentists recommend a gum – good enough
- weathermen tell you to abandon your home because of a bad storm – absolutely
- 98% of the scientific community tells us that we are headed towards dire and irreversible environmental consequences – fu*k off
This is a dangerous trend in our society that seems to be experiencing an ever-growing lack of scientific curiosity and attention span. Our society is too paralyzed to become a leader in green technologies, the sure to be big industry of the 21st century. The election process in this country discourages long term developments because all elected branches of government are concerned with re-election (even the Senate which was supposed to be the branch with longer vision and fewer concerns with re-election pressures according to the Founding Fathers). Obama has attempted some ambitious long term developments and we all see how his half-measures approach worked for him.
But weather is the greatest example of what cave men we really are. Al Roker can get us to respond more definitively and with more urgency than a dozen Harvard PhDs. Because long term sacrifice, vision and change are not things we want to do in America anymore. This storm is proof. If a doctor tells you you need heart surgery you will seek a second or third opinion at most before deciding to have the surgery. But if an overwhelming consensus of experts in their field of science tell us things must be done 50% of Americans say, “no thanks.”
Oddly enough a lot of the climate change skeptic community appears to coincide with the “Christianity is under attack in America” crowd (the other part being the “don’t tax me for anything and I am willing to believe whatever scientist’s opinion will lead to fewer taxes, regardless of how compromised that particular scientist is” crowd). Ironic that a people who base their lives on a future promise of a better life to come can be visionaries when it comes to telling people how to act in their homes and schools, but lack vision or passion for the planet when it comes to scientific predictions for what will happen. Perhaps a nice mix of Christ-like caring and scientific know-how is what we need, but that sounds like two things that are no longer cool in America: compromise and smart.