Sunday, May 6, 2007

A letter to Sheryl Crowe

It's been well over a week since our little run in with the adviser to our president. I am just now processing all that took place during the last few days of the Stop Global Warming College tour a few concerns still hang heavy on my mind and heart.
First, I am deeply concerned over where we are as a nation. We are so blessed to live in a country where we enjoy so many rights that other countries cannot even begin to imagine. However, what terrifies me is not what we are ignoring about the state of our planet but the fact that we seem to have lost touch with our connection to the earth. We have risen to great heights of arrogance in our refusal to acknowledge that the earth is changing.

(The problem isn’t that the earth is changing, rather the politically active but scientifically ignorant don’t understand why It’s changing. As for the connection to the planet, when have there been more conservation efforts, or more conversation about them?)

We hold steadfast to our belief that nothing can happen to us as a people.

( We know that evil exists, we know that bad things happen to good people, and we know that if we don’t respond to actual threats, like people who want to kill us, that the long view doesn’t matter!)

We get into our over sized, war-machine-like vehicles, get on our cell phones and blackberries, and avoid having human contact all day long.

(Sheryl, sweetie, I have human contact all day long. The most insular people I know are “celebrities”, who can’t deal with the “little” people.)

What Laurie and I were proposing by encouraging every college student to change a light bulb was actually meant to be not only useful in the fight against global warming but also symbolic of a change in attitude.

( Could you consider speaking in less hyperbolic terms to avoid confusion?)

Clearly, the subject of global warming remains a partisan issue in the minds of many conservatives. It appears to me that many on the right want to see this as a liberal issue, as demonstrated in the continued debate, rather than accepting the peer-reviewed science that is so clearly laid out for us earthlings.

(This isn't really a partisan issue, but rather an issue that brings a forum to those who have no real contribution. The issue is still open to debate, it isn’t something “everyone knows”, particularly to those scientists who label it junk science. If this global change is so obvious, why did the warming proponents try to get rid of the bump in the temperature record a few hundred years ago? Why do people talk of desertification if you merely disagree? The statement “everyone knows” is generally pushed forward because there is insufficient fact to support the premise, and the argument has to be shut down. This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a scientific issue that has been turned into an emotional issue. The idea of a "peer" review has to be filtered through the idea of who is handing out the grants for the research and review, a correct review gets a new grant, a disagreement doesn't.)

I suppose after my encounter with Rove, I got a little taste of what it feels like to have dipped my thumb into the political pie for a brief moment, over what I failed to realize was still a political topic, or at least an insulting topic. I got my hand slapped, as if to say, "don't mess with the big boys, even on topics as humanitarian as global warming." Within hours, the climate certainly changed. It was me at the center of a storm-like spin. I have seen ranting political pundits work their spin before but, like most people, I have always tuned it out until it involved my reputation. It feels pretty scary to watch credible news outlets run with a story that is clearly not true, debate my patriotism over my alleged desire to have toilet paper legislated, and be the joke of late night TV monologues, all as a result of a 2 week old blog and nightly comedy routine that was spun as truth, instead of the joke it clearly was.

( A personal philosophy is to make sure the other guy gets the joke, not everything is funny to everyone. The next time you hear a “Bush is the Devil” story remember how much truth was in the stories about you, and think about what the Main Stream Media does to their perceived enemies on a regular basis. Keep in mind the people who trashed you in front of the largest audiences were LIBERALS, not conservatives!)

What terrifies me the most is that we not only accept this of our journalists today but we are oblivious to it, and thus, oblivious to the damage it causes. When "news stories" are broken, do we not expect a certain amount of fact-checking or source-checking? One has to ask if this falls under the guise of sloppy reporting or deception as a source of spin. We seem to accept a certain amount of deception and we seem to be helpless to doing anything about it, as illustrated so clearly by where we are right now in this moment in history.

(Sheryl, most of us already believe the media to be lazy, ignorant, incompetent, biased, politically motivated hacks. No, we don’t accept lies, we are not oblivious, but what can you do? We try to correct and publish the actual facts. We don’t have millions to advertise, but we do have numbers and experts and the electronic sleuth has brought their downfall to some liars already.)

Which brings me back to my original subject: the planet. Deeper than temperature and the extinction of the polar bear is the idea that we all share this beautiful, ailing planet, Democrats and Republicans alike. The light bulb may be symbolic of a change in attitude but it is also illustrates a shift in consciousness. It is bound by the belief that perhaps what each of us does in our personal lives does truly affect another person's freedoms. If I drive a gas guzzling 12 cylinder vehicle knowing what I know now about carbon emissions and our dependence on foreign oil, I am basically saying that I don't care about the planet I leave behind for your or my kids.

(Please understand, I agree that we as a people need to take action to ensure our loved ones are left with a place that is safe and free of hardship. Most of the changes you hope for will be driven by the free market, the prices of fuels will reduce the carbon emissions. The rich who travel in private jets and own homes ten times bigger than they need should be the ones you are talking to, say Al Gore for instance. Be aware also the “carbon offsets” are a scam.)

I have been saying all along that this issue is deeper than recycling. It is more telling than unplugging gadgets not in use and not taking 35 minutes showers. It's about waking up. It's about understanding and embracing the fact that we don't own anything here. We are renters and that our lack of respect for the planet and the people inhabiting it will be the thing that takes us down, not simply the temperature or inevitable shortage of water.
The planet will live on in whatever state it is in, however, it is humanity that will suffer. And as I sit and wonder, like so many other people in this country, where are the marchers in the streets, where are the voices screaming for injustices to cease, for greed and apathy to let go of it's hold, I can only come up with one supposition: Perhaps we have lost our sense of who we were born to be and instead, are numbed out beyond recognition by the ceaseless chatter that is the soundtrack to our lives.

(Now that would be a song, ”The soundtrack to our lives”. You mentioned :injustice, greed, apathy, those aren’t the driving forces behind our problem. It's power, the ability to force those who disagree to do as they think you should, for their benefit. Any well meaning leader can come to believe they can cure all ills if they just have enough power. We haven’t lost sight of what we are born to be, most people never know until it’s too late. We the working class are just trying to make it to tomorrow.)

It is my truest fear that we are losing our way. Every night on the stop global warming college tour, Laurie and I would tell these great young people that they have the power to do anything they want. That we all have the power to create a movement for change. That the best part of ourselves is the part that rises up instinctively from compassion. I believe this to be true. I believe that divinity exists in all of us and that if we eliminate some of the chatter in our lives, the voice of compassion will have a chance to be heard. And, if we were to act from a place of compassion in every act of our lives, would we be arguing about whether global warming exists? Or would we simply be living our lives peacefully knowing that how we live will affect the planet we leave for our children and for their children. If compassion was the motivating factor behind all of our decisions, would our world not be a completely different place? Food for thought.

(Compassion is easily overwhelmed by hunger, need or fanatics, self defence is the first rule of survival, sacrifice should be freely given, rather than demanded. Oh! By the way, what have you given up for the planet?)

This is my reply to her concerns, my thoughts are in blue. I actually think she means well, it just comes across a little "California, valley, tree hugger". That's not a bad thing, it just doesn't speak effectively to a lot of groups. Check this link for more info on peer review.


night lightning woman said...

Your dialogue is most appreciated, especially your fair handling, printing her comments in full. You both made some great points. At least the dialogue has changed among scientists and politicos in the past year to an acknowledgement warming is occurring, just not why, and I suspect the answer will not come in my lifetime. This is the control generation. Maybe what is really frightening is that while there is much we can do, Mother Earth to some extent is gonna do what Mother Earth is gonna do. Archeologists in North Texas say just 10,000 years ago--a mere blink--conifers were just beginning to cover the mountains. The land was mostly plains with a paucity of trees, and armadillos the size of undersized volkswagons roamed the countryside. Just imaging the changes in that small amount of time s boggles me. I grew up staring at some big mountains that started my stumbling imagination on an attempt to visualize eternity, but I also realized as I looked at those mountains that I was looking at fossilized coral reefs. I veer between hope for a better world and a fear that my great-grandchildren are doomed, and meantime I live out my little life, buy my white toilet paper and try to take care of the little piece of the earth I can.

Ron Simpson said...

“everyone knows”. I hate it when they say that. Becuase it is implying that since I dont believe, then I am a "no one". If three people think something is right, but they are wrong--then it is wrong. If a million people think the same thing, then it is still wrong. Having millions of believers does not make it right. just popular, and I learned in highschool that poplular is not always good.