Pittsburgh, not Paris

Today President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, “in order to fulfill [his] solemn duty to protect America and its citizens.”

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I don’t feel safer. And I don’t think that Mr.Trump cares what I and countless other citizens of the U.S. and of the planet feel. I think he is not only opaque about his intentions,

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but that if we don’t do something, we are sanctioning his actions.

We get too complacent. We become overwhelmed. It is larger than the scope of our influence or power, or, if we are not being directly affected, we don’t really care.

I am reminded of this poem:

There Will Come Soft Rains

Sara Teasdale, 18841933

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground, 
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

From The Language of Spring, edited by Robert Atwan, published by Beacon Press, 2003.

You may recognize the title from a Ray Bradbury story that is excellent, and thematically mirrors Teasdale’s poem. Here is Leonard Nimoy reading it, if you feel like revisiting.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzhlU8rXgHc

Another well-known poem that deals with the human penchant towards self-destruction is “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44263

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
If we know our recklessness has repeatedly led us down paths from which we know return is not guaranteed, it seems like we might be more likely to be cautious. It seems like we would learn from our mistakes. Perhaps our mistake is believing that we are not doomed to be constantly fucking up.
Still, I applaud those who keep trying. I’m impressed with all of the companies that urged the president to realize that what is best for our country includes what is best for our planet. I am proud of the politicians at all levels (including the mayor of Pittsburgh http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/01/politics/pittsburgh-mayor-donald-trump/index.html) who have vowed to continue to try to reduce human impact on climate change. I celebrate people I know, and those who are still strangers to me, who do something rather than nothing, and who understand that we are, for better or worse, inextricably connected.
I don’t think that the Paris Climate Accord was the deal that was going to save the world. In fact, I think it is too late for that – fire and ice, y’all. All we can do at this point is slow down the inevitable. The treaty was a first step; people across the globe came together to say that we should do – you might have heard this phrase before- something, rather than nothing. I am saddened that my country asks, “What’s in it for me?” , as opposed to, “How can I help?”
There are those who vehemently oppose my viewpoint and support the president. Check out Utah Senator Mike Lee on the PBS Newshour and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Face the Nation
Again, I feel no safer. So much double talk and subterfuge! As Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance or conscientious stupidity.”
I started this post on Thursday. Friday it rained so hard in my town that water was gushing out of every alley onto streets where the runoff came up to my headlights. It was scary.The downpour lasted about an hour and a half, and in my city alone there were over 70 water rescues. Of course, that doesn’t mean that climate change is responsible for a summer storm – rain happens. Last night the news cycle moved on with the horrifying attacks in London, the third in England in less than a month. It’s hard to believe that we are not hell-bent on self-destruction.
We are living in interesting times, my friends.
Most of the editorial cartoons in this post are by Jim Morin, who has an exhibit right now at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. You can check him out here:
While you are at the Newseum site, check out these photographs. They are so evocative and iconic; I cried a little in the gallery. http://www.newseum.org/exhibits/current/pulitzer-prize-photographs-gallery/


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