23 June 2013

Getting Tired of the Rhetoric

Last night, I was already in bed when I heard Barack Obama's voice. It was a nice voice. Calm and soothing. It sounded confident. Very Americanly. Lovely music was playing in the background. Obviously my husband was watching an ad or a Youtube movie about the U.S. president. 

I wasn't really listening — until I heard this: 
"... and lead global efforts to fight it. This is a serious challenge. But it's one uniquely suited to America's strengths."

Aaaarrrrgh. You know, we could possibly maybe perhaps conceivably get this solved if Americans stopped thinking (or being told) that climate change is a challenge that Americans can solve. That sort of rhetoric feeds straight into the small-minded, insular view of the world that has held up action on climate change in the United States for decades. 

This is NOT an American problem. Every human being, indeed every living thing on this planet (except perhaps those creatures who live around hot vents at the bottom of very deep oceans) is going to be severely impacted. 

The American problem is that Americans think it's their God-given right to be the ones who decide when, where and how our catastrophic plight will be addressed. 

Sure, Obama's focus groups have been talking with my wonderful stepson — our cannibalistic, er, capitalist economic system is so ingrained that it seems climate change solutions have to be presented through economic eyes and seen as good for jobs and the economy (and each family's financial well-being) to be accepted by the American public.

But it wasn't "money in every pot" that got Americans interested in the space race way back when. It was finding out that they were losing the space race to the Russians!

If Obama really wanted to safeguard the future for his children (and ours), he'd be saying:
My fellow Americans, the rest of the world* has left us behind! They are fighting the good fight against climate change without us. They are leaving us in our own (drought-stricken) dust(bowls). Ladies and gentlemen, we are losing the race to save the world! Let me repeat. We are losing. We have become global losers, ladies and gentlemen. Sweden is beating us, for heaven's sake! Who even knows where Sweden is??? Come on, people, let's hustle and get to zero carbon before they do!
Sorry, I got carried away there. But you get my drift? Americans are not leaders in the global climate change fight. Saying they are going to lead global efforts does not make it so. Beating every other country to a zero-carbon economy ... now that would be global leadership!


The video in question is currently on the homepage of the White House website, but I'm sure it won't stay there long. (Republicans and other deniers have already been shouting down Obama's plan — even before the announcement.) Unfortunately, I can't embed the Youtube version here because some sickos have been posting dreadful comments there. 

* Except for that laggard north of the border, but Canadians are working to get rid of him and his tar sands.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?