Policy Makers Gamble with Our Common Future

September 24, 2007 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

While our collective awareness of how human activity has affected our planet continues to grow, there is considerable debate as how to proceed. Some call for drastic measures while many want more information. Yes, there is a lot of room for disagreement, but I believe we can all agree that there is still a great deal we don’t understand about our planet and its systems. In fact, I don’t believe we will possess enough knowledge to make an absolutely informed decision for several hundred years to come. However, if we heed the advice offered by the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm”, despite our “analysis paralysis” this core principal that forms the basis of our insurance industry insists on the implementation of sustainable policies in order to fulfill this moral code.

Philosophically and technologically we possess the capabilities to realize a sustainable common future, but in the real world actions speak louder than words. By that I mean we simply need to look at actual behavior to determine intention. Is our government looking out for the least of us? From my vantage point it looks like big business has benefited the most from the current American political leadership. The uninsured and underinsured are growing, the middle class is shrinking, the environment continues to degrade and corporate profits are growing – all in response to government policies. In my book, sincere contrition for one’s past errors is best demonstrated through the immediate change in one’s behavior.

Another tactic that is not uncommon in our political culture is to punt the ball down the road and let the next guy worry about it. Similar to President Bush’s strategy toward Iraq, this tactic strives to let the next party in power take the political fallout for making the hard decisions. However, unlike most of us, you have the power to affect systemic changes now. Time is not on our side and such political tactics only contribute to the enormity of the problems we face while we wait for you to leave your offices. Remember, in a court of law ignorance is not a defense so you will be judged for you failure to take action.

One of the arguments politicians use to defend their actions is that CO2 is a global issue and requires everyone to act in order to be effective. Wrong! Leaders act first! You can’t control others, you can only control yourself. If our actions demonstrate the type of nation we are, what does our behavior say about us? Maybe the US government prefers dividing up the costs to address global warming by paying our percentage of total historical gas contributions? It sounds very fair to me, and also very expensive. Now is our chance to avoid the high cost of “fair” by investing into transforming our society and economy now! Through their inaction policy makers are leaving us morally vulnerable to taking responsibility for creating this environmental mess.

Then there’s the chicken and the egg argument for inaction that there is “no public support.” Unless I’m mistaken, I believe that one of the essential duties of a government is to look at the “big picture” issues as well as future threats and address them by educating the public and developing solutions. While our government attempted to deal with the inherent unsustainability of our energy supply by invading Iraq, this is at best a stop gap measure with no long-term benefit to the people of the United States, and has turned out not to even have a short-term benefit except to corporate interests.

Congressmen, Senators, Presidents, Parliamentarians, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens, start doing your job — no one said it was going to be easy.

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Entry filed under: Consumerism, Design, Economics, Environment, People, Philosophy, Population, Sustainability.

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