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In November of 1969, the LA Free Press published an illustration by Ron Cobb, their much admired political cartoonist, a combination of the letters “e” and “o” that graphically brought together terms like “ecology” and “organism.” The resulting theta-like letter inspired the flag of the Ecology Movement that waved high above the very same Earth Day that we celebrate today. So appropriately, and coincidently, Cobb’s drawing sits right above an article about the first LA chapter of Ecology Action.
Ecology Action, a club started in San Francisco by Chris Humphrey, had evolved into a broader movement. Humphrey identified quality of life and human survival as two of the movement’s prime concerns and was a proponent of an ‘ecological congress’ whose agenda would surely have included climate change intervention. If only America had heeded his advice back then.
Today, America’s legal-bribery driven congressional gridlock on Climate Change makes us the laughing stock of the world as its discourse continually identifies quality of life and human survival as mutually exclusive hardships, rather than recognizing them as a part of a single spectrum for our best interest. Quality of life diminishes with lack of resources. Lack of resources fuels conflicts. Conflicts can kill, pollute, and perpetuate the destruction of Earth. Therefore, it’s not merely about quality of life; it’s literally about life itself.
And yet, while environmental preservation is a fundamental issue to a more peaceful planet, the go-to question in all of the political debates of this season is one regarding ‘national security’. Unfortunately, the only presidential candidate who seems to understand the seriousness of the issue is Bernie Sanders, who recently gave this answer to that oft-asked question: “[Climate Change is] the biggest national security threat facing the United States.” He then went forward about his plans for swift pro-environmental actions. You know something? He’s on the right course.
Surely, Middle Eastern factions are a threat, but we’ve already been invaded – by our systemic neglect of our environmental welfare. Case in point: Flint Michigan. Warming trends in Flint exacerbated its water crisis and grew the bacteria, Legionella, the source of Legionnaires disease, more quickly. A dozen Flint residents died. Climate Change’s warmer temperatures are bringing back deadly illnesses and residents have already been warned about this summer’s projected temps and the risk of illness.
Flint’s children suffered mental retardation due to lead poisoning, as well. What an embarrassment for a 1st world country to have its citizens dying of diseases from the Middle Ages. America is the richest country in the history of the world and this tragedy correlates directly to the perversion of money in politics.
Tax cuts for the richer Michigan folks ate up resources that should have been used for water regulation. In an inartful attempt to compensate for the wealthy’s tax cuts, Michigan poisoned and killed its Flint residents, a blunder that will surely cost more to fix than the gap originally left by oligarchical tax breaks.
But let’s be clear, this article isn’t just about Flint. Dozens of American cities are impacted by Congress’ inaction toward polluted water. Like that caused by fracking, where water can now, actually, be set afire! Another “Flint” crisis may be coming soon to a town near you.
Oftentimes, Climate Change is seen as a separate issue from a corrupt legal system. However these issues of our present legal system and the current environmental crisis cannot be compartmentalized any longer. It’s imperative for us to point out the true corrupting force – the ill-directed corporate money that motivates and sustains it – and jail it. Otherwise, it will pervert our every solution to every single issue facing us today.
However, and sadly, through a grievous string of SCOTUS cases, beginning in the 1970s, with Buckley v. Valeo and ending in McCutcheon v. FEC, SCOTUS even awarded that money the right of “free speech”, and interpreted law to allow our government and, moreover, our planet, to be exploited by the richest among us. Our government is bought out and our planet is destroyed – and the accountable campaign contributions are just filed away as that “free speech.”
For example, in 1981, Exxon covered-up its findings on the devastating impact “Big Oil” had on the environment. Then they doubled-down and stopped funding research and began funding the conversation of climate denial. Today’s congressional gridlock on Climate Change is no coincidence as “Big Oil” is one of the wealthiest industries in America. It pours money into lobbyists and campaigns to get more money and power. Rigging a gridlock when old industries already rigged laws, like the tax code, in its favor is simply business as usual. How else does Exxon receive its $4 Billion tax subsidy? Your tax dollars are funding Earth’s destruction one “Big Oil” tax subsidy at-a-time. Money begets money and corporations won’t stop chasing money even if it ends up killing us all.
When Humphrey spearheaded the Ecological Action movement, he took aim at the issues. Now, those who are influenced by America’s insidious money-machine take aim at people like him.
It’s imperative to include money in our Climate Change discourse because it perpetuates Earth’s destruction. It isn’t just about remembering your renewable bags or drinking from a glass water bottle daily – it’s about getting involved and demanding change, political or otherwise, as if your life (and those of your future grandkids) depends on it: because it does.
[Ed.’s Note: Ivy graduated with distinction from California State University Monterey Bay with a degree in Humanities and Communications, and, as her senior project persuaded the University to change its code of conduct. She also has a Masters Degree in American Jurisprudence. And we’ll surely note her other credentials as she writes on other subjects.]