Look Up! Converging Crises Confront Us All

The old saying, “when it rains it pours,” seems ever more appropriate now than ever. Several years ago, I read a book by Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011), which pointed out the growing range of crises around the world that appeared to be converging in a very dangerous way. His was an early warning; it has only gotten worse as inaction prevails.

Women as Property of the State

The other day the Supreme Court of the US struck down the Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) landmark decision, which stood as the law of the land for over a half century. It ignored the precedents set by decades of Supreme Court decisions that rejected challenges. This new decision ignores that history and establishes a new precedent erasing a woman’s right to determine her own health decisions. It also sets the Court on the path Justice Thomas hinted could strike down several other rights: contraception, marriage equality, LGBQ+ legal standing for healthcare, etc.

The Court had been stacked with corporate-fed anti-human rights judges by the actions of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. That resulted in the appointment of three extreme ideologues by the former Fake President leaving a 6 to 3 barbarian majority. That is big news, so important and so damaging for so many women and families. The Court has moved toward asserting a legal framework for a fascist theocratic autocracy.

Gun Violence vs. Human Life

At nearly the same time, congress sent to President Biden a compromise gun safety law that, while it has some important provisions, does more to protect guns than people, by what it left out. The AR-15 semi-automatic assault type rifle remains more sacred than the lives of schoolchildren. Why? Well, we have a long-standing tradition of the National Rifle Association (NRA) completely dominating Congress when it comes to any legislation that might regulate the ownership and use of firearms of any type, including military assault weapons.

Once many years ago, as we drove down a country road in a Missouri woodland, a retired CIA operator and hunter since childhood told me that an AR-15 (or similar assault rifles) is a very poor choice for hunting deer. Rapid fire aimed at a deer in the woods is more likely to severely damage trees than actually hit the target, which would inevitably move behind trees as soon as the first shot was fired. A good old 30-30 lever action rifle would do the job much better and with far less damage. It’s the first shot that counts.

If the hunter actually hits his target and wants to harvest the meat from his kill, he will lose a lot of meat because a round from an assault rifle will severely damage the flesh. The rapid-fire high-velocity ammunition for such weapons is designed to do maximum damage to flesh and organs in order to render the ‘enemy’ incapacitated whether he is dead or not. No civilian needs such a weapon, unless he I planning a mass shooting, an insurrection or a coup. Hmmm…

Several decades ago, when I was a kid learning to shoot my .22 rifle accurately and safely at a rifle range under the strict discipline of a no-nonsense range master and the safety protocols that the NRA had helped develop, the NRA was all about gun safety. Today it is all about lobbying for gun manufacturers to maximize gun sales by making political contributions, and stocking the egos of prospective gun owners. Many people I have seen at shooting ranges in recent years are so untrained and ignorant/arrogant that they are a danger to themselves and to others.

The Ego and the Insurrection

Then we have the ongoing hearings on the January 6, 2021 insurrection of armed extremists who breached the nation’s capital building resulting in deaths, injuries, and destruction. Lawmakers just barely avoided bloodshed by the wrath of the insurrectionists. The House Select Committee  is steadily exposing more and more evidence of the direct involvement of the Fake President and the enablers surrounding him in the White House and Congress.

In the latest session, Cassidy Hutchison, former aid to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, described her observations of the inner-circle struggles over the Fake President’s efforts to overthrow the election of Joe Biden by trying to force V.P. Mike Pence to illegally invalidate the electoral ballots by violently storming Congress in the Capital Building that fateful day. One thing is sue, Trump hired a bunch of cowards, who pleaded for pardons after it all came down.

Ms. Hutchison, a staunch young Republican, was present for most of the plotting and discussions among Trump and his advisors and lawyers. In response to her testimony, political shock waves radiated across the nation as the brave 25-year old described the behavior of a narcissistic sociopath and his acolytes all gone mad. She knew she would have to endure lies, smears, and threats of violence for telling the truth. Immediately Trump and his disciples began attacking her as having made it all up, despite the evidence and verification by others present. It is all quite bizarre.

Ignoring the Big Picture

Meanwhile, carbon emissions continue to accelerate, driving CO2 in the atmosphere to over 415 parts per million (unprecedented in over 400,000 years), acidifying the oceans, and causing increasingly severe weather events. Nevertheless, government, corporations, and especially politicians in the pockets of the oil and gas industries and the corporations driven by fossil fuel energy, go on posturing as ‘going green’ with various dodges, diversions and Trumpery (old French tromper => Middle English trumpery: delusive or shallow).

While the problems mentioned above are of great importance in any presumably democratic society, the path toward Earth System chaos does not bode well for the future of humanity everywhere. All other issues will fade or blend into the even more violent conflicts that will arise with further climate, ecological, and therefore societal chaos. And now, the plutocratic Court has decided to deprive the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its authority to regulate green house gas emissions, which, of course, will put us deeper in the hole of climate emergency.

Incredibly severe as they are, the multiple crises we face in the political economy that controls our lives will be meaningless when, as an old colleague used to say, “the yogurt hits the fan.” Major problems of politics, economics, and the usual range of other human problems will be overridden by the power of environmental devastation brought on by the very industrial civilization that now cannot even hold on to its fragile grip on democracy, no less deal with the global climate emergency. If we can’t get a grip on the climate/ecosystem emergency, nothing else will matter.

We are way overdue to mobilize people everywhere in all our interests to salvage what we can from the dregs of industrial civilization. That will require a new kind of civilization.


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