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The Truth Matters

Article Published At:
Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus
Date of Publication:
October 3rd, 2020

The central government of the United States is still crumbling in the face of COVID-19, white racism, capitalist exploitation of both the poor and the Earth, political bribery and corruption, and the endless denial of science and climate change. The web of lies continues as the White House tries but fails to invent plausible grounds for reelection. We are reminded of Herman Goering’s remarks at Nuremburg that all a government has to do to get its way is frighten the people. But as I commented two years ago, the utter incompetence of our would-be dictator may still save America. Yes, he still claims that, if he loses in a democratic election, despite every effort to restrict voting, he will not accept the result. Rather, he will call out his storm-troopers to destroy people’s lives. But here, too, his attacks on veterans and the armed forces have been so stupid that he cannot rely on military support – this, too, may save America.

Out in the real world, the hurricane season has hit new records with three hurricanes and a fourth tropical storm in the north Atlantic in mid-September. The Gulf Coast has suffered landfalls from three consecutive storms. Catastrophic fires across the western U.S., exacerbated by climate change, got underway before the usual fire season, and are overwhelming fire management strategies. One Oregon state senator, who opposed climate change legislation, returned to find his home burnt to ashes. For humans, this is poetic justice but for the climate system, this is just reality. For those who appreciate irony, this administration’s efforts to force citizens to breathe polluted air by rolling back clean-air standards are now overwhelmed by the smoke from the West Coast fires, amplified by the failure of the past eight administrations to manage climate change. Elsewhere, fires in Australia for the past two years were even larger than here. Widespread fires have also burned through the Siberian forest for two summers, where the permafrost is melting. In the far north, the area covered by the Arctic sea-ice in mid-September was the second lowest on record.

Everywhere, climate records are falling. Globally, 2020 will be one of the warmest years on record, as global climate change is accelerating. As more heat is stored in the oceans, ancient Arctic ice shelves are melting, and warmer sea water is undercutting the huge Antarctic glaciers, which will flood our coasts in the coming decades.

But both denial and injustice continue, and the COVID-19 crisis has revealed much. Polluters and the consumer economy have priority over the lives of the poor and older generations. Health care is optional for the poor. White racism is still alive as it has been for centuries, even though exposure has made it a sick shadow of its former hidden strength. The ruthless exploitation by capitalism of the poor, racial minorities and Earth itself, driven only by maximizing current profit without concern for our future, unifies the rich with the right-wing agendas. The so-called ‘Christian’ Evangelical Right still clings to its white racist and prosperity doctrines that are opposed to everything Christ taught.

But I do not want readers to succumb to withdrawal and depression. Surrounded by webs of lies funded by billions in plundered dollars, the truth still shines through the lens of compassion, humility and courage. Fraud and deception cannot hide the greed and fear that is driving them. You can face the truth, simply because we have a real choice ahead. Enough citizens will grasp this and sweep away the darkness.

Yes, we have so much to do. Connect with each other as we face an election that will determine whether America survives as a democracy. Step out into the beauty of fall. Connect with the whole of the Creation, and resolve to preserve it. Here is your strength that transcends everything else. Resolve to stand together for freedom, responsibility, justice and compassion for all.

Alan Betts is a climate scientist who works with Atmospheric Research in Pittsford. He can be reached through his website, alanbetts.com

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