A reckoning

It’s a study/research/writing day in Environmental Ethics. Perhaps we’ll want to spend a bit of it reflecting on our “new media ecosystem” and the degraded political environment it’s reinforced.
David Remnick, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer, has written the beginning of his subject’s next chapter. “Obama Reckons With A Trump Presidency” is the smartest post-election punditry we’ve heard.

…The new media ecosystem “means everything is true and nothing is true,” Obama told me later. “An explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers’ payroll. And the capacity to disseminate misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, to paint the opposition in wildly negative light without any rebuttal—that has accelerated in ways that much more sharply polarize the electorate and make it very difficult to have a common conversation.”

That marked a decisive change from previous political eras, he maintained. “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us,” he said. “And then we would have a debate about how to fix it. That’s how, in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you had Republicans supporting the Clean Air Act and you had a market-based fix for acid rain rather than a command-and-control approach. So you’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that.” (continues)

The 44th President’s calm, intelligence, lucidity, and generosity of spirit could not stand in sharper contrast to his preposterous successor’s embarrassing shortcomings. Too bad he didn’t get more passionately and publicly engaged with the climate crisis earlier. The reflexive hostility of his benighted opponents would still have stymied his best efforts, but the collective resolve of the rest of us would have stiffened for the fight ahead.

The good news is that he’ll continue as a presence in Washington and a voice of conscience in the land. Maybe he’ll even still be, as promised, a bridge to climate change we can believe in. First we’ll have to suffer and survive the backsliding change of administration we didn’t allow ourselves to see coming. His voice will help.

6 am/6:33, 31/61, 4:33

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