We often times get caught up in our every day world. Current events swamp our consciousness. Our fast-paced lifestyle demands we dwell in the immediate with little time for reflection.
But l find it enlightening to look back sometimes. Reflection for me is useful. Lately I've been doing a lot of it on the issue of climate change. It helps to shed light on current events.
This period of reflection started in late August of this year when the group Climate Change SOS was formed and a climate change blogathon was launched. That blogathon prompted me to write my first diary entitled Time is Wasting. In that diary I concluded: "I can't do anything about the sand that has already passed through my hourglass. I must deal with the present. I must take personal responsibility. I must guard against my apathy. I must try.
That blogathon gave me a lot of renewed hope and I'm happy to say it still feels hopeful. Our nation just might be ready to seriously tackle climate change now. The 350.org Do the Math Tour now taking place gives me hope.
Let's go back to a speech delivered by President Jimmy Carter to the nation on July 15th, 1979.
Looking at the text of this speech in the lens of 2012 we would not want our President to say the same things. We would not want to hear about the expansion of coal and shale oil for instance as a means to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
There are also things that we did not hear back then that we would want to hear now. For example, there was no reference to climate change or global warming. They were not part of the lexicon of the day. The issue of man-made climate change was not wildly known or acknowledged as a problem yet.
Though it is often said to have been ill-received, The New York Times ran the headline "Speech Lifts Carter Rating to 37%; Public Agrees on Confidence Crisis; Responsive Chord Struck" later that week.
Crisis of Confidence
Selected excerpts: (Full text can be read here)
…He then goes on to outline numerous steps to address the nation's energy problems. Among them are imposing import quotas on foreign oil, massive investment to develop our own alternative sources of fuel and the establishment of an energy security corporation to issue small denomination government bonds to raise funds from the American people. He further called on Congress to establish a solar bank to increase the percentage of power from the sun, pass legislation to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies and pass legislation to require utility companies to cut their use of oil by 50 percent within a decade. He asked for authority to establish an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in WWII, would have had responsibility to cut through red tape connected to energy projects. Finally, he called on every state, county, city and individual to conserve.
Ten days ago I had planned to speak to you again about a very important subject -- energy. For the fifth time I would have described the urgency of the problem and laid out a series of legislative recommendations to the Congress. But as I was preparing to speak, I began to ask myself the same question that I now know has been troubling many of you. Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?
I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence.
Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. ... But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.
What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.
What can we do?
Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.
It is uncanny how the past can reflect the present. I can remember that night well. I had tremendous hope for a while after the speech. That hope quickly faded, however.
Once again I'm allowing myself to have hope. I dream of a similar but updated speech by our current recently reelected occupant of the White House. His latest news conference and answer he gave to the question about climate change, analyzed so brilliantly by A. Siegel, gave me some further reason to hope, but it also gave me an unsettling feeling of deja vu at the same time.
I hope this time the hope I'm feeling is "Hope I can believe in!" There are some positive signs. Optimism is starting to bubble up. Can you feel it? All together now - YES WE CAN!
Do the Math Tour
You can help promote this tour by spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook, encourage people to buy tickets (go to this link to click onto city to sign up and buy tickets), giving donations for the tour, and promoting the tour with posters in your town or announcements at churches, schools or community meetings.
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The Daily Kos Do the Math Team (PDNC, boatsie, citisven, rb137) is working with Bill, Daniel Kessler and Jamie Henn of 350.org to promote his tour through November with diaries here. If you are interested in writing a diary to help support and spread the word about this tour, please kosmail PDNC.
For those of you in Washington, D.C., this call to action from 350.org's May Boeve:
Can you join us in Washington this weekend? This Sunday afternoon, November 18th at 3:00 PM, we’ll gather at Freedom Plaza and march to the White House. Please sign up here: 350.org/Nov18
PS. Sunday’s action will coincide with the DC stop of the Do the Math tour, and we’re going to have a camera crew with us in the theater and on the street. Tune in to the livestream at 1:00 here: 350.org/KXL