Born Free USA Blog
Is Michelle dumb and uncaring, or does she assume the rest of us are?
While I may be a Canadian, I know that the U.S. government consists of congressmen and congresswomen who represent specific states, and usually belong to one of two quite similar, right-wing parties called the Democrats and the Republicans. The latter is the more right-wing of the two (in fact the Democrats are often called “liberal” or even “left,” a joke to those familiar with more balanced governments where there is a true political left), and sometimes to an absurdly extreme degree. Without going into the kind of details that can (and has) fill volumes, I think the attraction of the extreme right is that it provides simplistic and reassuring answers to complex, multi-layered issues. In doing so I think it often plays the citizenry for fools (albeit willing fools in some cases).
Kishmore Madhubani, once ambassador for Singapore to Canada and now connected to the UN, recently wrote in a column in Newsweek, “The U.S. presidential election may be the most undemocratic in the world. Only some 126 million vote, yet the result is felt by 6.6 billion. Indeed, in some ways it matters more to non-Americans.”
Indeed. But so do the actions of all of the U.S. government matter to the rest of us. This is particularly true as we see scientists scrambling to document the disintegration of our planet’s ability to sustain us all. American decisions can contribute to the most major threats to the environment of the entire world. At the least we want America’s federal politicians to be marginally intelligent, well-informed and logical. But what are we to think of someone like Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN)?
It’s bad enough that she is a certified member of the facetiously named “Dim Bulb Caucus,” consisting of congressional members supporting H.R. 5616, known as “The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.” They seriously want to overturn provisions of The Energy Independence and Security Act that establish a phase-out of incandescent light bulbs as they can be replaced with energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs. It all seems to be part of her drive to do all she can to deny that the world is experiencing a catastrophic future if we can’t curb our energy excesses, especially our gluttonous dependence on fossil fuels.
But what really raised my ire was her recent flyover of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in mid-July. She reportedly said, “Visiting ANWR also revealed that almost no wildlife exists in the 2,000 acre area (to which all drilling activity would be limited). It was flat arctic tundra with absolutely no trees in view.”
Huh? She was above the treeline. It’s tundra. There are not supposed to be trees; there can’t be trees, not unless the climate continues to warn, but if that happens, and the permafrost thaws, the amount of greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere will greatly increase, quite apart from any other effects imposed upon the environment. That environment includes tundra-dependent wildlife not visible from an airplane in flight. She said that caribou and wildlife were nowhere near the drilling area.
From the air how could she see Alaska Marmots (an uncommon species whose existence is confined to northern Alaska), Arctic Ground Squirrels, Tundra Voles, Singing Voles, Brown Lemmings, Northern Collared Lemmings, Alaskan Hares (one of the few mammal species confined to a single state), Tundra Shrews, and so many other species of small mammal crucial to the food chains of the region? Did she really know, in her flyover, the status of species as the Black Scoter, Spectacled Eider, or Steller’s Eider — the last two in serious decline and confined to breeding in just such habitat as she declared to be empty of wildlife. Does she not know that arctic wildlife has wide population cycles, and many species, including the caribou, are, of necessity, migratory?
It’s absurd that she would gainsay scientists who have spent lifetimes studying arctic wildlife. I would respect her more, if not much, if she’d just say she doesn’t care what happens to the region’s wildlife, to the local aboriginal people who depend on it if they are to maintain cultural integrity, or the not-so-long-term effects of global warming.
Whatever oil or natural gas is there has been there for tens of millions of years. It isn’t going anywhere, and it will be of value to future generations at a time when technology can assure environmentally safe extraction, and when (or if) greenhouse gases have been brought under control. If one does not care about such things, fine, but please, don’t play your electorate for fools. And if you really do think American voters are that dumb, the rest of the world is not!