We are hearing very little during this election season about issues that are near and dear to our hearts, issues that we, as voters, think need to be addressed by government. Instead, we are hearing hatred, criticism, and accusations carelessly flung about in an attempt to rile the masses. Even when a candidate does address issues, the media downplays that conversation in favour of the more colourful, though not useful, rhetoric. So, I take it upon myself to discuss issues in a calm, informed manner.
In my last two post, Let’s Talk About The Issues … Part I and Let’s Talk About The Issues … Part II, I discussed the issues that citizens consider the most important according to a national Gallup survey of July 13-17:
- Racism/Race relations
- Dissatisfaction with government
- Ethics/Moral/Religious decline
In this post, I will briefly explain my own list of top five issues:
- Environment/climate change
- Gun control
- Refugee crisis/immigration
I already discussed the issue of bigotry/racism in my last post, Part II, so I will not waste time and words repeating it here.
In my first post of this series, I noted that I would discuss only domestic issues, as international/global issues deserve an entirely separate discussion and none of those issues made the national list, so apparently most citizens are more concerned with domestic issues. However, #2 on my list, climate change, is obviously a global issue, but also a national one in the sense that the United States is, and must continue to be, actively involved. The U.S. is the 2nd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), yet ranks only 44th in performance to combat climate change.
A Gallup poll released in March of this year shows only 33 percent of Americans are worried a “great deal” about climate change. Despite the fact that 97% of scientists are firm believers that climate change exists and is a real problem, and 84% are convinced that the problem is a result of human actions, there is still a substantial portion of the population that either outright deny the concept, or are skeptical that humans are at fault. Why? How? Many large corporations, including the infamous Koch Brothers, are funding climate-denial groups. Koch Brothers alone have contributed millions of dollars to the effort. Here are some of the arguments used by the deniers:
CO2 is not actually increasing.
Even if it is, the increase has no impact on the climate since there is no convincing evidence of warming.
Even if there is warming, it is due to natural causes.
Even if the warming cannot be explained by natural causes, the human impact is small, and the impact of continued greenhouse gas emissions will be minor.
Even if the current and future projected human effects on Earth’s climate are not negligible, the changes are generally going to be good for us.
Whether or not the changes are going to be good for us, humans are very adept at adapting to changes; besides, it’s too late to do anything about it, and/or a technological fix is bound to come along when we really need it.
The last one is particularly interesting. It would appear that what humans are very adept at is making excuses such that they do not need to feel guilty or make sacrifices. To paraphrase, “Oh well, even if it is true, we will adapt, or a fairy godmother will just come along and fix it for us”. The evidence to support the fact that climate change is, in fact, a very real issue is far beyond the scope of a single blog post, but National Centers For Environmental Information has an excellent website which I highly recommend to anyone who is interested.
President Obama has given climate change top billing during his second term, calling it the most immediate threat facing the country. The United States is engaged in a number of multilateral activities that promote clean and efficient technologies and the sharing of critical scientific information among a wide range of government, private sector, academic, and other interested stakeholders. These efforts must continue if we are to ensure the future of our planet. In order for us to successfully do our part in reversing or slowing the effects of climate change, the citizens of this nation must stop fooling themselves into believing it is not an important issue and get on-board. We must be willing to make the necessary sacrifices and stop saying, “Oh well, I don’t care, I’ll be dead before it becomes a catastrophic problem.”
Gun regulation/control, #3 on my list, tends to be the most contentious topic I have ever addressed. People will defend their gun rights every bit as vociferously as they will defend their religions or families. Admittedly, gun deaths declined in the U.S. during the 1990s and have remained fairly steady since. However … there are still, on average, between 11,000 and 12,000 gun-related homicides every year in the U.S., and that is 11,000-12,000 too many! That does not even include accidental shootings and suicides. To put it into perspective, the U.S. is the only nation to have more than 1 gun-related homicide per 100,000 citizens. We have 3.6 per 100,000 citizens, while countries like Australia, France, and Germany have 0.2 per 100,000. Norway, Japan and the UK have 0 per 100,000. A reader from the UK recently commented in response to a post that “In England we forget there are countries where firearms are commonplace.” We have laws on the books that allow for “open-carry”, others that allow for “concealed-carry”, but very few that control who may carry a gun or where they may carry it.
Gun proliferation is, in my eyes, a huge problem. Today in the U.S., there is an average of one gun for every man, woman and child in the nation. I am enough of a realist to understand that we will never get rid of guns in the hands of civilians, though I would whole-heartedly support such a move. That does not mean that we cannot pass laws to make our nation safer. We hear that “more guns make us safer”, but this is a fallacy. We hear that “guns in the hands of “good guys”, or “law-abiding citizens” make us safer, but there is really no way to distinguish a “good guy” from a “bad guy” in most instances. We are all good guys until we aren’t anymore. I am a “good gal”, but I also have a temper and would never want a gun at my disposal under certain circumstances.
Those who support gun ownership will not regulate themselves, else they would have done so by now, therefore we simply must have laws that ensure: a) people are not toting firearms into public venues such as theaters, churches, shopping areas, schools and the like, b) people with a history of emotional problems are denied the right to own or carry firearms, c) a person with a single firearm violation forfeits the right to ever own a gun again. Only when we have these laws and actually enforce them, will I feel safer.
Once again I have over-stayed my welcome on the soapbox and have not yet addressed all the issues on my list, so there will yet be a “part IV” in this series in which I will address the last two topics on my list and then you can all breathe a sigh of relief! Stay tuned … just one more, I promise!