Monday, August 20, 2012

Let’s be reasonable on Fracking and Climate Change


It’s hard to figure out why so many are so complacent about the looming Fracking decision coming to New York state and the lack of discourse on Climate Change in this year’s presidential elections. Both are going to come to a conclusion soon and will have very long-term impacts, maybe forever.

For some these issues just as aren’t as interesting as sports. Some are too busy. For others, they’ve had the rational branches of their brains rendered null and void by their political party’s beliefs. Or, the quiet majority still believes that the invisible hand of capitalism will sort everything out by the mindless machinations of money. And, there are those who say they just don’t care. But that isn’t a reason so much as the point Jesus was making in Luke 23:34 when he said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know ...”

Others may be lured by the golden mean fallacy—where it is believed that the answers can be found by warring parties compromising. Extremist rhetoric, like that of Barry Goldwater's acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican Convention—“Extremism In The Defense Of Liberty Is No Vice”—still sends shivers through political analysts today. Reasonableness, as a general principle, seems to be the best course. But there is an inherent deception in thinking our gravest problems can be solved in a middle ground. Both Fracking and Climate Change are unlikely to be solved reasonably by giving in to the popular zeitgeist of reasonableness because the measure, the final arbitrator, is not social propriety, but the cold hard laws of physics.

On Fracking, the governor of New York is going to make a decision at any moment. He is going to do this despite a litany of issues that have yet to be resolved—public health issues, Fracking chemical disclosures, possible water contamination, public road repairs, drilling for more greenhouse gases, sufficient well monitoring—and while any one of these should give the governor pause, the long-term threat to our sovereignty over our environment may be the most immediate. If the numerous Fracking Reasonablemoratoriums across the state are undermined by a ruling that supersedes Home Rule, all the concerns above will play out—whether we want them to or not. Because of the pervasive character of Fracking, where horizontal drilling bores underneath us for miles, we will have lost control of the very land beneath our own communities.

On Climate Change and the presidential elections: Both parties for all their sound and fury seemed to have agreed not to talk about Climate Change, which is quite a trick considering the devastating heatwaves this summer and the prognostications by the experts that this is the new normal. The leader of the most powerful country in the world won’t have to explain his position on the most important issue in the world.

Nothing seems to be changing on either of these two issues; we are running headlong towards a version of the future that doesn’t have to be but probably will be because too many don’t want to appear unreasonable.

Highlighting that, what’s really dismal about the prognosis in 2052-A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years by a host of Climate Change experts is that all along the progression of warming we’ll deny it and fight every plan to solve it unless it pleases our most immediate self-interest.

Time passes.

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