Texas Is Flooded Because Our Democracy Is, Too

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Above Photo:Port Arthur, Texas underwater (SC National Guard / Flickr)

Our culture of legalized bribery makes climate disasters more likely, but there’s an alternative.

“It’s flooding down in Texas,” goes the old song. “All of the telephone lines are down.”

With apologies to Stevie Ray Vaughan, there’s a lot more down in Texas than telephone lines now. Power lines are down, homes are destroyed, and cities sit underwater. Dozens have died.

For me, this is personal. I worried intensely about friends and family in Houston and Corpus Christi.

Thankfully all are safe, but it’s been jarring to see photos of places I know underwater. Every time I check the news I recognize familiar places from the long drive from Houston to Corpus I’ve made numerous times.

There’s another unforgettable sight I often recall from that drive.

In Taft, Texas, as you’re nearing Corpus — a major refinery town — over the horizon comes a huge wind farm. What does this juxtaposition of refineries and wind farms have to do with the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey?

Two words: climate change.

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that burning the products of those Corpus refineries pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which traps the sun’s heat and destabilizes the climate. That means more frequent and severe storms, droughts, and disasters.

To stop it, we need to wean ourselves off those refineries and rely on cleaner sources like that Taft wind farm. That’s obvious enough, so why haven’t we made more progress?

It’s complicated, but part of the reason is our political system.

Led by fossil fuel interests, energy companies poured $172 million directly into campaign coffers in the last election cycle. That dirty coal, oil, and gas money comes with strings attached.

Fossil fuel enthusiasts in Congress serve their corporate supporters well. They distract the public by holding Inquisition-like hearings to attack climate science, while consistentlyvoting to expand territory for drilling, subsidize dirty fuels, and cut incentives for wind and solar.

Meanwhile, President Trump has famously said that climate change is a “Chinese hoax.” He’s appointed heads of the EPA and the Energy Department who deny climate science, and his secretary of state is the former CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil.

Since taking office, the administration has proceeded to undo even the modest steps taken by the prior administration to combat climate change.

It’s announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, removed the moratorium on coal leases on federal land, and reopened the Arctic to oil drilling. It’s censored science on government websites and pulled the rug out from under federal science advisory committees.

Meanwhile, it’s proposed a disastrous budget that eviscerates the EPA, eliminates funding for renewable energy research, and takes an ax to climate research at NASA.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey — or Irma or Jose or whatever comes next — it’s unlikely this leadership will learn the obvious lessons. Only last month, Trump announced his “infrastructure plan,” which removes common sense rules requiring federally funded projects to account for sea level rise and flood risk.

An industry that’s set to make large parts of our planet uninhabitable has captured our federal government. Their goal is to make more money now, to the detriment of people and planet forever.

This makes the struggle for climate justice inseparable from the wider struggle for democracy. But as in Corpus Christi, where a large wind farm abuts oil refineries, the solution is right in front of us.

Let’s get money out of politics — and renewables in.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Yes, Basav, but our faux “Demoracy is Flooded by an un-forecasted, un-diagnosed, and un-recognized EMPIRE” — which only the American people can mobilize against, if they finally WakeTF-up and start “Seeing the forest of EMPIRE through the trees of little ISSUES” that they are wasting their precious time and energy trying the chop-down one at a time!

  • Alan MacDonald

    Kevin, I hope you remember your promise never to censor any reasonable comment.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Yes, Basav, but our faux “Democracy is Flooded by an un-forecasted, un-diagnosed, and un-recognized EMPIRE” — which only the American people can mobilize against, if they finally WakeTF-up and start “Seeing the forest of EMPIRE through the trees of ISSUES” that they are wasting their precious time and energy trying the chop-down one at a time! (And while the untouched EMPIRE laughs at how easily they can be ‘divided’, distracted, and deluded into NOT attacking the underLYING EMPIRE)

    And, unfortunately, Basav, “In the wake of Hurricane Harvey — or Irma or Jose or whatever climate ‘issues’ come next — it’s unlikely that” enough American people will stop being deluded and drawn to the individual “ISSUES” to start seeing that the only way we are going to overcome, overthrow, expunge, or non-violently and surgically ‘excise’ this EMPIRE, which is the hidden cancerous meta-CAUSE of all these ‘ISSUES’, all these ‘symptom problems’, and all our entire “ailing social order” [Zygmunt Bauman] is to recognize, understand, and beginning to work together and organize a; loud, public, ‘in-the-streets’, sustained, but completely non-violent “Shout (not shot) heard round the world” to ignite an essential Second American people’s patriotic peaceful Political “Revolution Against EMPIRE” [Justin duRivage]

    It only takes 3% to 5% of ‘we the American people’ to ignite a successful “Revolution Against Empire” (as Kevin Zeese and Dr. Flowers have researched), BUT that means that some of the millions of people now spending their time and efforts on protesting and resisting the hundreds of ‘different’ and ‘divided’ ISSUES, will have to WakeTF-up, and turn their attention from the “trees of issues” to see the “forest of EMPIRE”.

    The good and unifying news is that all of these hundreds of issues can easily be united in solidarity with a single, focused, and powerful Revolution Against Empire, because each separate ‘issue’ is actually caused by the very same EMPIRE —- and the real benefit is that each issue can be accurately described in an effective and ‘strategic narrative’ such as these; “Science can’t exist under Empire … just ask Galileo”, or “Empire’s Exclude Immigrants”, or “All Wars are started by Empires”, or “Alternate Energy Creates an Alternate to EMPIRE”, or as Pat might have said if Tom took the Paine to edit his shout, “Give me Liberty over Empire, or Give Me Death”.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Kevin, sorry, should have said “my earlier comment, which I’ve now resent ‘above’).

  • Patricia Gray

    Any revolution against EMPIRE must start with a revolution against corruption and a fierce fight for democracy. This fight must start with insisting that our elected officials heed the voice of their constituents above the roar of their major donors. People of this nation must face the fact that the two major political parties are but one evil beast with two heads. There is no lesser of two evils between these two corporate lackeys.

    The people must inform the elected officials how we want them to vote, and then VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE if they do not follow the our directions. Watch the discussions over Medicare for all. 85% of the people want medicare for all—but will these paid for lackeys of the l % allow us to have it? Same with even more funding for wars when the people want
    peace, and for our military funds to be diverted to programs to putting people to work repairing our faulty infrastructure. The corrupt in Congress will approve more aid to Israel to kill Palestinians, and vote to pay for more wars of aggression and cut the taxes of the very wealthy.

    Our task must be to replace these ‘Representatives’ with people who will truly represent the people and vote in our name as we direct them to vote. That is democracy over corpocracy.

  • chetdude

    At one level, I though it entirely appropriate for Mom Nature to send a hurricane into one of the petroleum refining capitals (and major pipeline destination) Houston, TX…


  • justobserve

    But be watchful of taxpayers’ money being spent to rescue these capitalists’ businesses.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Patricia, no EMPIRE was ever ‘Voted’ out of office.

    As the old true saying goes’ “If ‘voting’ changed things, they would not allow us to ‘vote’.

    This most sophisticated and first in world history disguised global capitalist EMPIRE (only nominally HQed in, and ‘posing’ as, our former country is way past being affected by ‘voting’ — only a people’s peaceful, patriotic “Political Revolution Against Empire” (and/or God’s intervention) has any chance.

    But, hey, as they say at McDonald’s, — “have a nice day”

  • kevinzeese

    How do you see US empire ending? And, what role do the people of the US have in ending it?

  • kevinzeese

    I don’t know what you are talking about. No comment of yours has ever been censored.

  • kevinzeese

    As I said, no comment of yours has ever been censored. If there was a delay because it had a url in the comment, it was because we were traveling or busy with other issues but you have always been published. Disquis, as far as I know, does not block comments. It delays them so we can review them, none of yours have ever been blocked.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Thanks, again, Kevin — I was confident that you folks don’t block.

    However, “DISQUS, as far as I know” is a damn spooky filter of many things radically correct. They often use the “Detected as Spam” excuse to censor much valid discussion, and FB is worse (having improved on DISQUS’s subtle techniques to filter-out disagreeable comments and eliminating any track/copy of the supposedly ‘offending’ comment.

    If you don’t think there’s some dirty stuff going on with the s/w tools proffered to serious left discussion sites I’ve got a bridge I could sell you. Best to you and Margaret.

    PS. I just made a little donation to the “NIM For All” thingy, despite Bernie, but in his favorite denomination.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Empire will end by being ‘exposed’, called-out, and publicly non-violently confronted by at least 3% to 5% of ‘we the American people’.

    The role of the people of the US in ending it, is to focus on a powerful and strategic narrative in protesting — which links all the awful individual ‘issues’ and all the ‘symptom problems’ that the Empire causes into the common narrative thread of Empire as the uniting target of our essential Revolution.

    Oh, BTW, Kevin, thanks for asking.