Part 2: Cracks in the Narrative

December 29, 2019

In my previous essay, Pt 1, I wrote about our country’s simple narrative connected to the strong tendency – perhaps not so different from other countries – that glorifies a past that was certainly not all bad but was definitely not all good. It’s a simple narrative of a country that has had noble ideals such as freedom, equality and justice for all; a new type government by the people, for the people and of the people which, though not totally democratic, was still a major shift. It was a shift from a hierarchical monarchy to a government of checks and balances upon its president and the ideal (if not realized in practice) for equal voting rights and equal opportunity.

This simple narrative has maintained a view that we are caring, god-fearing, “wholesome” people with good values wanting the good to prevail for all people.

Yes, it’s what’s called patriotism and with all patriotism, a lot gets overlooked, denied, ignored, diminished. All that is unpleasant, that puts us in a bad light, that does not include a view encompassing the full spectrum of who we were and are is pushed under the carpet.

I connected this simple narrative to our avoidance of facing climate change and ended by saying, “When are we going to crack this narrative to such a degree that we finally as a nation begin to face the reality of our past, present and what is looming in the future?” When are we going to face into climate change?

Thank goodness the cracks are beginning to be felt.

The cracks come in different forms and are interpreted differently. Many people sense that something isn’t right. It may be sensed as a low rumble or a very loud scream.

For example, those who want to make America great again already sense that things are not quite right for many reasons and feel we must go back to the past; to a time when all was good. It’s a past that actually never existed but in our simple narrative it always exists. In a way this is a crack in the narrative based on some nostalgic ideal of America.

For some, it means moving away from capitalism, consumerism, high technology and industrialization and then we will have a better world. There has some truth to it but is not the whole truth either. Included in this view, I feel, must acknowledge how much we all have benefited from industrialization, technology and capitalism and in terms of the future doesn’t mean throwing everything all out.

With wild fires burning out of control in California and hurricanes of an unheard of size, crops being damaged in floods or droughts and seas overflowing in our rivers and oceans, one feels that the cracks in our avoidance of climate change are already happening and will continue to happen. Furthermore with bush fires now burning all over Australia and temperatures rising to over 105 degrees, how long can we avoid facing the facts?

More and more people are getting concerned about the climate crisis; they do know something is greatly amiss even if they may not attribute it to manmade causes.

Many of today’s youths, be they Republicans, Democrats, or those not even in any particular party, are very concerned. They believe in science and the data, have grown up with reports of climate change and understandably are very worried about how climate change will directly affect their future. How will this “youth bloc” begin to noticeably affect their parents and grandparents? It’s just a matter of time.

Our insurance companies, that are so omnipresent in this country, are experiencing the effects of climate change in relationship to the increase in natural disasters like hurricanes and fires. Their job is to look at numbers and assess risks which are then monetized and passed on to consumers. Insurance companies are already losing money by not anticipating, for example, the huge disasters in 2018. Both the companies and consumers, particularly living in vulnerable areas of sea level rise and fires are and will “take notice” of what is happening. Their pockets are being affected!

Even the oil companies know their time is limited. Apparently most large companies no longer deny the relationship between burning fossil fuels and climate change. Some companies such as Shell are investing in alternative energies looking to the future but even Shell, (among other oil producers) are moving too slowly. It’s like the last hurrah for these old energy industries, the old way of doing things, the old way of making money and in the wings the new is waiting and in some cases not waiting at all.

These cracks so far are not happening fast enough – not fast enough at all -but for sure the cracks are happening and will only widen and deepen over time and make denial of climate change, one hopes, veritably impossible.

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