Like many Americans yesterday, I watched horrified as two storms took hold in our country.
The first, a raging of thunderstorms, hail and almost 150 tornados across the south, represents a massive spike in April tornadoes in terms of yearly record keeping. But because there is some precedence for this — big tornado outbreaks in April of 1974 and 1957 — folks will likely disregard them as having anything to do with climate change.
Others argue that there is a shift in jet stream patterns from climate change that is pushing more air, more forcefully, through the regions, resulting in increasing numbers of severe storms. But I’m neither a meteorologist nor a climatologist. All I do know is that, as Bob Dylan once sang, A hard rain’s a gonna fall.
It puts me in mind of the kind of emergency supply kit that everyone should have on hand, not only for disasters, but going into a lower energy future. A few that I think are most essential are:
- A hand-cranked flashlight.
- Good quality walkie-talkies (they’ll work for 30 miles even when cell service is out).
- Hand-cranked and/or solar-powered emergency radio.
- Hurricane oil lamps.
- Foul weather kettle (these puppies are ingenious).
You should also prepare a first aid kit and a portable cooler with long-lasting snacks and fresh socks for the whole family. Put it all where you can easily get to it in an emergency and feel better knowing that if what’s happening all over, happened to you too, you’re able to deal with it a little more tolerably with granola bars and dry feet.
As above, so below
The other storm raging yesterday is tougher to guard against.
It’s the storm of race-baiting and coded language coming out of would-be presidential candidate Donald Trump’s mouth and by extension his party, which is certainly not reining him in.
As a people, we Americans are legendary for our lack of seriousness. Sure, we have great moments like the American Revolution and rising to the challenge in World War II, as well as billions of stories of unsung heroes and Americans who are the salt of the earth.
But culturally, we’re now officially a mess. We are Idiocracy in technicolor, as was shown in the insistence by the Birther movement that President Obama, unlike any other president, be called to account for the legitimacy of his birth in the US.
In trying to put the matter to rest once and for all, President Obama ponied up his long-form birth certificate for all to see. Obama’s claim that the issue had dominated the news was then roundly dismissed by media observers as overstating the case. But they too seemed to be missing several key matters, probably from being too far inside the beltway or its machinations.
The Birther frenzy has a lot to do with how and when a story appears in print, online, and on TV and radio, and with how it’s positioned — how frequently it’s covered in light of its weight and import. Surely anyone on Facebook for the past several days did feel it was a dominating presence. Anyone watching Fox News for the past three years knows it for a fact.
And the band played on…
The bottom line is American politics, but more importantly, effective American leadership both at home and abroad is a mess of seismic proportions.
I mostly blame a plutocratic Senate and Congress. The whole run of them is bought and paid for by corporations. It is now corporations running government at the expense of We The People. Many of us are trying to fight back, but corporations are employing the Shock Doctrine to beat the citizenry back and rule over us without accountability.
So we get side shows, as serious issues of our energy, environment and economy go up in flames before us, leaving our futures uncertain, and our entire ship of state adrift.
I fear we’ll only get more of this mayhem if we don’t become storm chasers ourselves, shining the light of cameras, awareness and transparency on the shenanigans that pass for media and politics and governance today.
And we’ll only get more racism and ugliness in tougher times if we don’t say no to this version of our lowest selves both privately and publicly today.
The monkeys are loose, when what we need is for the Wicked Witch to be dead.
–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List