Obama reality check

Posted July 7th, 2009 in Blog, Featured 3 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Look, I’m as relieved as anyone that Barack Obama is our president and I think he is a thoughtful and serious guy, though we here have always known that he was a centrist, not a true progressive.

That said, we have to get serious about challenging him on some of his policies because he is making some potentially fatal mistakes (like going to big-time war against the Taliban and alienating the entire population of Pakistan in the process, continuing policies on Gitmo detainees that violate human rights and civil liberties, and allowing Tim Geithner and Larry Sommers to make financial policies that favor the re-entrenchment of the big financial institutions to the detriment of all but the rich – for example.  Or how about their surprise that unemployment is soaring and will soar well beyond 10% this year?).

Earth from Galileo - NASA photo

Earth from Galileo - NASA photo

So while our project focuses on spirituality and ecology, we have to care about all these things because ecology is about the whole — the whole of the human project and its impact on the viability of the planet’s life-sustaining ecosystems.

Speaking of those ecosystems, there are some problems here, too, and we need to start ramping up the national discourse on these things.

On the one hand, Prez Obama has given scientists the winning hand in describing our impending climate catastrophe over the global warming deniers who are playing the increasingly immoral role of trying to get in the way of addressing this threat in a manner commensurate with the scale of the crisis.  On the other hand, Obama is more than timid about taking his case to the public and creating the kind of stir that gives this as much media attention as, well, for example, the tragic death of Michael Jackson.  Let’s put these two things on a scale of what will have the greater impact on our lives and the lives of our children…

But, sadly, it also becomes obvious, just like in his policies for trying to fix the financial crisis, that as a centrist he is not at all ready to challenge business-as-usual in fundamental ways.  Some think this is political realism, but some of us think it is philosophical.  If Obama believes in the basic foundations of our financial, economic, and energy regimens, then he will look to preserve them and work for reform around the edges, fixing the system within the system.

Help me here if you think me wrong.

Another example — if he truly believes that policies must have bipartisan support, even with his party’s majority in Congress, then our poor planet and our unemployed and uninsured workers and poor people are facing some serious days ahead.


Kayford Mountain, West Virginia - photo by Vivian Stockman

Now, in regard to our ecological concerns, I want to share this egregious example.  Visitors know that mountaintop coal mining is to us one of the greatest environmental evils ever thought up by the human.  I won’t write about the practice here, but do put the term in our search engine to find lots of info, and then go to the resource list and the “we can change the world” page to find groups working on this.  We urge mightily that you get involved in responding to their action alerts and advocacy efforts to stop this practice.

Okay then, what sparked my ire this day is coming upon this opinion piece by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in last Friday’s Washington Post, A President Breaks Hearts in Appalachia.  Maybe he just doesn’t get it.  Maybe he has been too much a city guy.  Maybe he needs to go see it to believe just what kind of destruction is going on in the heart of Appalachia.  I think RFK is right here — get him out there to meet with these communities — and then for god’s sake, stop this.  Stop mountaintop removal coalmining, Mr. Obama — decree it, then pressure Congress to do it by law.

But as you will read in this piece, many of the laws to stop it already exist — the federal government just needs to enforce them.

We are responsible for this.  We use the coal from this mining practice every time we turn on our lights, every time we neglect to turn off our computers and coffee makers when we go to bed at night, every time we turn on the a.c. on a hot day.  That means we have extra special influence — and responsibility — to change this practice by being willing to use less power, even if that means not living a life of utter affluent convenience, scaling down, and being willing to pay more for power from ecologically harmless alternatives in order to get ourselves off coal altogether, the dirtiest fossil fuel ever invented and the leading cause of our headlong fall towards climate catastrophe.

Martin County KY - photo at Wikipedia

Martin County KY - photo at Wikipedia

If we humans can blow up the oldest mountains in our hemisphere, formed over millions of years of Earth’s creative energies, to keep our lights on as cheaply as possible and to provide profits for the fossil fuel industry, what makes us think we are prepared to do what we need to do to save us from ecological disaster?

Now, Obama won by a big majority.  Time for some of that majority to get busy on this.  Personal behavior changes are not enough.  It is time to apply some real political pressure on our representatives in Washington — in the Senate and House, and in the White House.


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3 Responses

  1. Jason Crow

    I don’t think there is anything that can be done to alleviate the Crisis. I think that things will get much worse economically, politically and the environmental crisis will get worse. I don’t think people of the world can unite to solve the problems of society. I have read James howard Kunstler’s latest novel – World made by hand and I he portrays an accurate account of how life will be in 25 years. I feel really bad for my kids that have to grow up in a time when my actions and my parents and grandparent’s actions ruined the planet for everyone. Gaia will recover but with a much smaller human population.

  2. Margaret

    Jason — we are headed for turbulent and difficult times for sure. JHK paints a very grim picture and has for some time. I like to still think of this as warning more than description. That said, if we stay on course, it will become descriptive indeed.

    I don’t think societies will come together in time to avoid ecological disaster, but I believe people of all sorts will be creating a new way of life in the midst of catastrophe. Like you, I trust Gaia to continue to create, to heal, to regenerate, with or without us. Hopefully, our children will be part of the ‘new creation.’

    I have a godchild about to be born. The urgency I feel is quite acute.

  3. Dave Kane

    A great way to see your involvement is to go to http://www.ilovemountains.org and type in your ZIP code. It tells you if your energy comes from coal, where that coal comes from and the effects of that coal. Check it out.