I couldn’t help being amused at the irony of someone complaining online about the dismal regularity of the dire Climate Change studies recently. He said something like, “I’m so tired of seeing new studies every day about how bad our climate is getting. It’s like those days of old and those constant warnings about the dangers of cigarettes.” Pretty funny. It’s like someone lying in bed moaning about a fire alarm going on in their house that just won’t stop.
Truth is both Climate Change and cigarettes will kill you. They will do so slowly and wreck your future. As we are increasingly realizing with cigarettes, it’s not simply a personal choice to do yourself in with a product that even when used as intended will harm your health, but it’s a choice to harm others. That’s why some cities are making stricter rules about where you can smoke. And if you are smoking and don’t have health insurance (which, given that 50 million in the USA don’t) then the rest of us have to pick up the bill when you can’t breathe anymore. The cigarette folks knew back in the 1960’s that cigarettes were bad for your health, but kept it from Congress and the public. The industry talked about the freedom of choice and reaped millions why millions died and the public paid smoker’s medical bills (when they darted off to the emergency wards) and our government gave the tobacco industry subsidies. American Capitalism, you have to love it.
Climate Change, based on science, is also getting further verification that it’s causing extreme weather and unless stopped and reversed will cause our climate to spin out of control. This must seem a dismal faire for those who just want to be free—in some infantile way. The freedom to smoke and die and harm others. The freedom to pick up paper and not have to read about how our climate is warming up. The freedom, as stated in the Declaration of Independence for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Yet, the pursuit of happiness is not just your happiness, however you wish to define that, but everyone’s happiness. As recorded in this story, many around the world are getting annoyed that the US and other polluting countries are only interested in their happiness (by continuing their addiction to fossil fuels) and not the rest of the world’s happiness:
Climate talks commence in South Africa - Africa - Al Jazeera About 25,000 people gather in Durban, but expectations remain low for any global agreements. Up to 25,000 people, including 7,000 delegates from 194 nations, have gathered for United Nations-backed climate change talks in the South African port city of Durban (November 28, 2011) AJE - Al Jazeera English
Not only are the US and other rich countries dragging their feet at the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) · talks in Durban, South Africa going on right now, the mainstream media in our local and national news arena hardly even bothers to mention this next attempt to solve this world-wide problem in a world-wide way. It’s too boring, or it annoys too many people who just want to get on with their lives, burn fossil fuels, and forgetaboutit.
The freedom to smoke wherever, whenever you want. The freedom to fill the air with greenhouse gases. We love our freedoms, but other’s freedoms? Not so much.