On The Folly of Politics, Elections and Human Conceit

cnn-2016-electoral-map
The current US Electoral map

In reflecting on the electoral map in its current form, the political landscape is, quite literally, changing its color, the candidates vying for the “hotly contested” red or blue states and which state will ultimately be tallied in their respective column, I couldn’t help but recall that famous excerpt from Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot:
 

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

As participants in one of history’s greatest experiments in Democracy and self-governance we, each of us, wield an enormous, singular power, the right to vote, the right to choose our nation’s next leader. Considering what is at stake, many will squander that vote out of conceit, hubris or willful ignorance. We think of ourselves as quite powerful; we believe this out of the pride of conceit and the belief that we can adapt and conquer our environment; we believe this even though our life form cannot even be observed from low earth orbit. When set against the enormity and awesome majesty of the cosmos, even our beautiful blue planet, which we are quickly degrading through willful disregard, pales and disappears when set against the stark and deep enveloping cosmic void.

The hubris to think that we can continue to emit untold billions of tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere annually without consequence is breathtaking. Many, through a variety of reasons that include an uninformed and pathological religious fervor, ignorance, willful or otherwise, indifference, greed or allegiance to powerful coal and oil interests, persist in the notion that simply because they don’t believe climate change is real or is a hoax or is greatly exaggerated makes it so; belief or lack thereof is often not reflected in reality and such is the case here.

During my reflections on the changing electoral map, I note the political “color” of those states whose vital coastal regions will be at greatest risk during the coming coastal flooding and rising sea levels brought about by a warming planet. Parts of Miami’s South Beach flood on a daily basis, exacerbated by high tide but Florida’s governor Rick Scott forbids the use of the term “climate change” in any official state communications. It is projected that by 2040, much of Miami will be underwater and uninhabitable. That, in and of itself, one would imagine, would cause a rational, thoughtful, intelligent person to do everything in their power to mitigate or, at the very least, minimize the coming onslaught but no, Florida, aside from electing a governor whose approach to climate change mitigation borders on criminal breach of public trust, is a “borderline” state during this election.

We are presented with a stark, moral choice between the two candidates, one with questionable judgement on the use of an email server and the other a person who is guilty of multiple counts of moral turpitude and who lacks any basic moral fiber, character or intelligence. This second candidate not only doesn’t accept the basic science of climate change and the observed, empirical evidence that the planet is warming, that the sea levels are rising and the polar ice caps are melting, is a person who believes climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to disrupt our economy.

This later candidate is opposed to any climate change policy, publicly denouncing the hard-won progress made on climate change during his raucous and often distasteful public rallies, vowing to dismantle as much of it as possible in the early days of his administration.

When confronted with the two presidential candidates, joined by the “Coastal Red States”, this vacillation between the two candidates by Florida and some states along the US Southeast seaboard, joined by the open support for this later candidate by the Coastal Red States such as Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi, that this candidate would publicly advocate for climate policies antithetical to their best interests, when vast swaths of their respective states will be underwater in the coming decades, bespeaks a pathological irrationality that defies description.


All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike-and yet it is the most precious thing we have

An index of all articles in this blog can be found here.

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