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Hope Dies Last: Obama’s SOTU Platitudes

In what has become a familiar ritual, liberal critics were bewildered that Obama’s progressive proposals in his State of the Union address (on paid sick leave, increased taxation of capital gains, raising the minimum wage etc.) are being advanced at a time when Republican congressional majorities make them impossible to pass.

The cluelessness of this becomes more apparent with each iteration.  After all, to ask the question why the Democrats are not committed to policies opposed by their major financial backers is virtually to answer it.  And so too is the no-brainer converse: why do Democrats advance legislation supported by their base (and, for that matter, most of the population), only when it has no chance of becoming law.

Liberals averting their eyes to money functioning as the mother’s milk of politics and the resultant sale of government to the highest bidders used to be a grimly amusing spectacle.  But more recently the joke has become stale. That goes particularly for those of us who have children born in this century a circumstance which guarantees, it now seems certain, that they will be staring into the gaping maw of a planet no longer able support our species as they approach middle age.

Any doubts on this score are being effectively removed each year as no transformation towards the sustainable economy which is the only hope of saving our species is even hinted at. SOTU 2015 confirmed yet again the encroaching nightmare with Obama’s bland, pro forma recognition that “global warming is real” and then obliterating it by announcing his commitment to the TPP and increased domestic energy production both of which are certain to boost CO2 emissions.

These and other SOTU platitudes amounted to just one more rotation of the whorl as we circle the drain.

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For what it’s worth, outside of the beltway one can, as usual, find a few dissident voices in command of their perceptual faculties.collapsewestern

Two of these are Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway whose The Collapse of Western Civilization provides an uncomfortably credible portrait of the world which awaits our progeny and which some of us will have the misfortune to experience in our dotage.

Resource wars, mass starvation, forced population transfer, a billion climate refugees, inundation of much of the currently inhabited landmass of the earth, massive proliferation of infectious diseases, it’s all there.   And while nominally science fiction-a history written in the late 24th century- its predictions are on solid scientific foundations-Oreskes and Conway are PhD’s and noted historians of science-copiously supported by the technical literature and the overwhelming consensus of researchers working in the relevant fields.

There is, as even Oreskes and Conway note, still time to avert the worst, but this will require mass, concerted intergovernmental action within the next decade-the exact opposite of the mass inaction which has characterized the response since the crisis became unignorable three decades ago.

There is by now no rational basis for believing that any more than token gestures will materialize from our leadership class.  And so we will take our place in line with what may well have been numerous other planets which have spawned advanced, “intelligent” life forms unable to maintain the ecological conditions required to support their species.

With that in mind, in what can only by now be characterized as a spasm of irrationality, I procured a boxful of Oreskes and Conway’s one hundred page text with the intention of sending copies to those who might be in a position to make a difference and could be swayed by an acquaintance with the undeniable facts.

Silly, of course, but hope dies last and we’ll probably keep on hoping until the laws of thermodynamics bring our brief experiment to an end, some time in the next century.

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes

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John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes. He tweets at: jghalle.

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