The Chain-Smoking Climate Change (Commentary with Video)

Here is a nice interview by, rather than of, Bernie Sanders — well worth watching:

(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “Bernie Sanders & Al Gore: A Candid Conversation on Climate Change”)

I like how Al Gore is comparing our cottage industry of climate change denial to the tobacco industry’s public brainwashing with actors dressed up as doctors (and the tobacco companies’ delaying of sound public health policies by lobbying politicians, of course – lobbying being our classic euphemism for legalized bribery of officials in our country, of course).

This comparison opens up a number of interesting connections. 

For example, I have spent a significant amount of time in foreign countries and with immigrants in the U.S., and one of the things that always struck me is how, in many other countries, smoking is still a major problem. I witnessed the fight against Big Tobacco in the States, and breathing in public has become so much better as a result ever since. Attitude has changed, and – in the U.S. – smokers tend to apologize and actively avoid subjecting their fellow citizens to passive smoking. Meanwhile, in Europe, I always find a large portion of the population having chimneys growing out of their heads and suffocating me with their fumes from all sides in restaurants, train stations, and the streets. And these smokers are militant about their self-appointed right to do so. Ugh!

This is really a great example of how a country can better itself in a very short time when enough of us find the necessary resolve and determination. While in other countries, lung cancer from smoking (including passive smoking) is still a plague, we in the States can breathe easily just about anywhere now. The air I breathe is no longer someone else’s property to spoil as he pleases. What a blessing and relief! Naturally, former smokers and people who would have become smokers in a heavily smoking society, benefit even more than passive smokers from a drastically reduced chance to come down with lung cancer. It’s really a win-win, I think, even if some resistance had to be overcome first, just like other changes for the better we could effect.

In the linked video, Bernie Sanders interviews former Vice President Al Gore on his movie sequel (“An Inconvenient Sequel” released on July 28). One of the points made is that renewable energies are becoming cheaper than energy released by burning fossil fuels, just as it should be when those modern technologies essentially harvest free energy for us (there is no costly mining or drilling needed for sun and wind, for example, nor any pipelines). The sad aspect of this development is that other places like Europe and China are running circles around us in renewable, clean energy development and introduction. So, not only, will these other nations suffer less local pollution from the energy sector and energy-intensive industries, but they will be ale to cut their production costs, pushing the U.S. economy ever harder up against the wall in a globalized market where the lowest cost denominator rules and drives wages down whenever production somewhere becomes cheaper than elsewhere.

So, by letting our oil barons prevail in rigging our politics, alongside the financial, military-industrial, and healthcare industry sectors, means we are letting our economy go to ruin ever more and more. It is another reason, besides our loathsome inequality, which is reason enough(!), to change the way politics and business work in our country, so that democracy and fairness can take over from oligarchy and ruthless exploitation of good people who deserve better than a life that is a forced march through hell from our cradle to the grave.

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