Monday, October 20, 2008

A "tetchy" letter from England

Richard Wood is an old friend of 40 years. He's also a Yorkshireman, which means he speaks his mind.

So it was that I opened my e-mail this morning to find this letter (below), which he himself describes as "tetchy."

You can sense his impatience (even anger) not only with America generally but with me in particular for my choice of subjects these past few days. He is accusing us of ignorant trivializing of this election's significance to the planet.

The rest of the world has about had it with the American electorate and this campaign. Richard doesn't even cite the worst of it. The attack ads, the voting machines that change your vote (go here), the voter suppression, the robo-calls, the transformation of politics into entertainment (Read "Amusing Ourselves to Death"), the racism, the hateful claques at the rallies.

There's a lot to get tetchy about.

Here is Richard's letter.

Are climate change, ecology, the environment, the immediate future of the physical planet itself issues at all with the American public?

In your three current posted stories - the disastrous local landslide, Cindy's dollars, and the debate by the would-be presidents, there is no hint of awareness that there are huge policy questions waiting to be answered.

The whole world is watching.

We don't care what the next president looks like, his sex appeal, whether he makes eye contact, how many zillion dollars his wife earns, how heroic or cowardly he was in Vietnam. We want to know if he is going to kick-start America's involvement in saving the planet. Does he (do you) make the link between natural disaster and climate change? Did a natural fault line create the landslide or was it the result of more than usually violent weather patterns? If the latter, are they related to what used to be called global warming?

Here in North Yorkshire we have had three successive relentlessly wet summers, as predicted by the climate change theorists. We have had massive flooding, with water pouring through the homes of thousands of people more than once each summer. Snow is a thing of the past. A whole generation of under-20s has grown up without ever seeing snow, in a county whose winters were once dominated by snow and ice.

There are climate change skeptics, but not many. Most people are now making uncomfortable shifts in the way they live, think and behave.

There are many, many great American scientists standing by for signals from the new American political leadership that the dark days of Bush ignorance are over, that your country is ready to play its part in combating man-induced climate change. You are the greatest users of non-renewable energy in the world. How willing is the new leadership going to be to wake the people up, get them started on massive changes in personal habits?

Does Obama mean what he says when he promises America will have cut off its dependence on Middle East oil within 10 years? Dare he and does he know how to go about this? What are his links with Al Gore; how prepared is he to listen to and learn from him?

Let's hear these questions asked loudly so that we know what these guys are truly made of.
Maybe the mesmerising line running across the TV screen during the next debate could reflect the responses of the political blog writers!

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