Friday, February 6, 2015

Concluding Letter to Congress

To All Members of Congress,

This is my second open letter to you. You failed to respond to the first one, written a year ago, in which I called on you to pass a carbon tax to begin to address climate change (see letter dated January 21, 2014, announcing the launch of my blog, Very little happened in Washington in 2014 on the climate change front, and frankly I continue to be surprised (insert emoticon with mouth agape), disappointed, and, above all, ashamed of you . . . of all of us. You may think this hyperbolic, but at times I feel like I’m living in Nazi Germany, with nearly everyone going about their business and actively ignoring the horror and injustice of the climate holocaust lurking just around the corner.
I can’t help but think that you have simply failed to conceptualize the problem in terms that would push this issue to the top of your list of priorities. In order to facilitate the reconceptualization I believe is necessary, I could (a) prepare a long, detailed list of terrifying facts about the dire state of the planet’s oceans, forests, plains, deserts, ice caps, farmlands, and atmosphere (all of which, I remind you, ensures the existence of everything you require to live . . . not oil rigs, pipelines, or refineries, as some with deep pockets might argue before your next reelection campaign), (b) attempt to pull at your heartstrings by attaching pictures of each of you with your kids and grandkids (think holiday cards gone viral) and asking whether you care more about the current – and temporary – state of the economy (not an insignificant issue, to be sure) or the long-term capacity of our planet to sustain life for generations to come, including your progeny, or (c) write you an imperfect poem. I have chosen the final option:  

Hello, my name is Humanity,
And I have a venereal disease called Climate Change,
Yeah, I know, too much partying, too much fun,
But what can I say, everybody makes mistakes, right?

I’ve been to quite a few doctors (99.9% of them, in fact),
And they all say that this thing is probably going to kill me,
Or at a minimum make my life really, really suck,
Unless I treat it aggressively right away.

The problem is, though, that the medicine may have some undesirable side-effects,
Dry mouth and a recurring metallic taste on my tongue, well, I certainly can’t have that,
And nausea and diarrhea, very unpleasant indeed (both ends! can you imagine?),
And now get this, they tell me that the side-effects could last up to six weeks.

It’s been a few months now since my diagnosis,
And I’m not experiencing any real problems,
I only get those sharp pains a couple times a day, and they usually go away after about an hour or so,
The way I figure it, this is manageable, my doctors must have just overstated the problem.

And who would trust a bunch of silly old doctors anyway?

Oh, I should say that a couple weeks ago, I started feeling a little bit guilty about spreading my disease,
So I starting using condoms, just to be courteous, you know,
But those things are so inconvenient, I ended up throwing ‘em all away,
You can’t really expect me to change my whole lifestyle now, can you?

So my plan is to do nothing and see what happens,
I’m young and healthy, except for the VD or course,
And if I start to feel really sick,
Then I’ll simply go back to the doctors, and they can fix me up, right as rain.

In the end, life is just a series of choices,
Lots of people worry too much about the future,
But I’m not like that, I like to live on the edge,
Not doing anything at all, ever, and just let the chips fall where they may.

I told you it was imperfect, but you get the point: everyone would listen to doctors’ advice in the face of a potentially fatal diagnosis, so how can you justify ignoring the world’s scientists when the future of our planet is in jeopardy? Even if we cannot be certain of the extent to which we will harm the earth’s current rich systems of life, why take the risk? Aren’t we morally obligated to act now?

If you have made it this far, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Please take action on climate change this year. Like my grandma once said, “If you like being alive, you must be an environmentalist.” You are the most powerful body in the world, make my grandmother proud and pass some effective legislation that begins the process of converting our nation from one that is sick and in denial to one that is facing facts and seeking the road to recovery.

Thank you,
Joshua Harris