Thursday, April 12, 2018

March 8, 2018 last minute protest outside Noel Wien Library against oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Divided We Fall

Lady Liberty weeps for the soul of America, an America divided that has lost its way, in danger of losing its heart.  There is greed and falsehoods destroying our body politic, painfully obvious and a serious threat to the survival of our democracy.  America’s ship of state is in danger of foundering on the hard rocks of unrestrained gun violence and climate change.  

A great nation has no need to build walls of fear and separation.  A great nation is one marked by compassion and forbearance.  Our collective star shines brightest when we care for one another and for Mother Earth regardless of political persuasion.  
Character matters!  We are best served when our leaders are men and women of integrity and honesty - courageous when it’s necessary but compassionate and loving when circumstances demand it.  There is no moral authority where they are lacking.  
This is no more clearly evident than from the sometimes crude and compassion-less rhetoric and “wrecking ball” policies of President Trump.  Without moral authority there follows an erosion of respect not only for this President but the Presidency itself and his Party.

We have the spectacle of President Trump our “Denier in Chief,” proclaiming climate change a hoax, despite credible science to the contrary.  Withdrawing America from the historic Paris Climate Agreement was dumb, like shooting yourself in the foot then poking a finger in the eye of the world community.   Beyond the “me first” shores of President Trump, the community of nations understands the danger posed by climate change and the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions driving it.   

Alaskan representatives, in bed with the oil industry, have turned a blind eye to the real problem.   Where is their vision and moral courage to stop pandering to constituents and work towards an orderly transition to a sustainable, renewable energy future?  But no, their prescription is more of the same mind numbing “drill baby drill?” 

The triumvirate of Murkowski, Young and Sullivan will go down in infamy among those who treasure and have fought to save our public lands for posterity. No thanks to them one of the purposes of Arctic Refuge is now oil exploration and development.  

A purpose of the Arctic National Wildlife Range established in 1960 was preservation of its unique wilderness values.  When it became a Refuge in 1980 wilderness preservation was deleted as a purpose.  Alaskan politicians wanted to drill for oil then as they do now.   This became an ad on new purpose included in recent tax cuts for the rich legislation    Yet it belongs to all Americans not just for Alaskan’s to muck up with oil exploration and development like much of the rest of the North Slope.   

Especially hurt by their short sightedness are the Gwitchin, self-identified caribou people, living a traditional life style in the northeastern corner of Alaska and adjacent Yukon Territory.  The coastal plain of the Refuge where oil exploration would occur, is the birthing ground of the Porcupine Caribou Herd and a host of other life forms now threatened.  They consider it sacred.

This sacrilege and their betrayal was far from loving-your-neighbor-as-yourself but about money, and jobs and we know best, perpetuating America’s legacy of cultural imperialism towards Native Americans.  Their pleas were ignored.

The bottom line is this.  In the past 100 years sea levels have risen 4 to 8 inches.  This due to a warming atmosphere from fossil fuel burning and the increasing concentrations of heat trapping greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, methane and nitrous oxide) "...  The concentration of these gases is unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.   Since 1950’s many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennial (IPCC)."  "Natural changes alone cannot explain the climate changes we’ve seen (EPA)."  

According to IPCC warming will continue and likely accelerate with a rise of 1.7 to 3.22 feet by the turn of the next century.   Alarmingly, according to a new study, sea level rise could be double the latter if the Antarctic ice sheet goes.    

What we do or don’t do in the next handful of years to reign in fossil fuel emissions will likely determine the fate of all life on Earth for millennium to come.  This is no joke and no hoax. 

The winds of change are blowing.  Many are already awake to the danger humanity faces and are working for positive change.  This is encouraging!   Our Children’s Trust of 21 young people are   suing the federal government for jeopardizing their future with their do nothing policies regarding climate change.  

An unqualified “Captain” is now conning the helm, pun intended.  In President Trump we have one whose truth is his own and everyone elses is “fake news.”   It’s time to vote him off the “ship” along with his wrecking crew and replace them with shipmates that will work for unity and the common good, not just their rich benefactors.  

Peace Rider

Note:  This article in redacted form first appeared on line in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner 3/4/2018 and in print the next day.  I included here text that was redacted as well as corrections and clarification to statements made in the original article.

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