Occasional thoughts on the political headlines of the day.
If you currently live in the United States, then you probably pay your taxes. You probably obey traffic rules. You probably don’t spend all day breaking and/or ignoring the law or otherwise behaving in a manner wholly inconsistent with societal norms.
In other words, your behavior and actions are, for pragmatic reasons if nothing else, bound and restricted by the society you have chosen to live in.
There’s a school of thought — and I use the word “school” and the word “thought” here loosely — that suggests choosing not to vote is a valid way of expressing one’s rejection of the system of laws we’re bound by. Refusing to participate in the electoral process becomes a weapon against the corruption of that process and the government it is associated with. It’s a way of saying, “I won’t be bound by your petty rules!”
This is utterly wrong. Unless you have rejected your social security number, work only under the table for barter, reject the use of anything created by or for the government at any level, and so on, you are obviously bound by the government’s “petty rules.” Every time you wait for the light to change, drink municipal water, use money, make a phone call, email anyone, or engage with society in nearly any way, you are also engaging with that society’s laws.
By choosing not to vote, you are not rejecting the law. You are only rejecting your own ability to have any say in the law.
You are free to abandon this society completely, if you so choose. But as long as you live here, why not take a few minutes out of your day to have some input regarding the society that, like it or not, you are bound by?
Do yourself a favor. Vote.
I’m home sick today, and [ljuser]floatingtide[/ljuser] is out with Beatrix at her cousin’s birthday party, so I figured I’d kick back, do a little writing, and relax.
Instead, the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear is on, and has sucked me in. So I will be spending the day being entertained instead, and blog/liveblog about it. (For instance, Jon Stewart is on at the moment).
Oh, that’s not to say I won’t be productive in a few other ways. I’ll do some dishes, I’ll have some Vitamin C (after all, what’s more productive than trying to nuke the virus making me feel miserable right now?), and one other thing:
I’m going to VOTE.
There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about optimistic science fiction. You’re got Lightspeed Magazine, edited by the inimitable John Joseph Adams. You’ve got the Shine anthology (as well as Outshine, of course). There are all sorts of traditional science fiction outlets looking for positive views of the future.
But I’m not feeling very positive right now.
I’m back from my news fast, to find a world in which BP has created the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, several states are trying to follow Arizona’s racist lead, Israel has made some very bad choices, and… well, let’s just say not very much good news seems to have happened over May.
My thoughts, in no particular order:
- The ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is astonishing and horrific. There are no words.
- Israel made a terrible, monstrous mistake when it raided the Gaza-bound flotilla of humanitarian aid. The Israeli government needs to make amends, and quickly, lest it alienate a world that by and large supports it.
- Speaking of Israel, I’m very tired of right-wing lunatics telling me I’m anti-Semitic when I don’t support the government of Israel. Those teabagging nutcases don’t get to accuse other people of racism when they continue attacking President Obama’s legitimacy with racism thinly veiled as claims of a foreign birth. And accusations of anti-Semitism are particularly hilarious coming from a crowd that supports segregationists like Rand Paul. If they don’t understand — or choose not to — that it’s possible to be critical of a government’s policies without giving two shits about the religious beliefs or ethnic makeup of that government’s members, then I don’t see any reason to talk to them.
- I’m boycotting anything made in Arizona.
So… I’m back from my news fast, but feeling a bit pessimistic about the state of the world. I’d like to write some positive science fiction, so feel free to counter my pessimism with some positive news stories I may have missed over the month of May.
Seriously, I see that sentiment popping up all over the place, due to the recent unseasonable snow storms that have crisscrossed the United States, especially in places that aren’t accustomed to major winter weather, like Arizona and Florida.
Snowfall, the sentiment goes, means that the globe isn’t warming. See this editorial from the editorially bankrupt Washington Times for a prime example.
Now, this is stupid. Why it’s stupid ought to be self-evident, but here it is: The climate is more complex than your freezer. An individual unseasonable cold spot doesn’t mean the rest of the planet isn’t warmer on average. Or to put it in even more blunt terms, the snow outside your door doesn’t mean people in Rio de Janiero aren’t roasting. To death.
America is not the world. More importantly, your experiences do not define the world.
But perhaps talking about climate complexity in global terms doesn’t get through to the deniers for precisely that reason: They can only understand what they can directly tie to their own experiences. So perhaps instead of talking directly about the science behind anthropogenic climate change or pointing out the fallacy of using a regional cold snap to “debunk” global warming, we should talk about how the frost on the grass outside is caused by the warmer weather.
Bear with me. It’s not a perfect analogy to the complexity of the global climate by any means, but it’s a small enough and simple enough weather event to explain in ways that even those who actively loath science will be able to understand.
In my neck of the woods, it’s been cloudy and gray for weeks, but that’s coming to an end. The sun is out, the sky is blue, the birds are singing, and there’s not a cloud in the sky today. The next 24 hours will be warmer on average than the previous 24 hours, and the previous 24 hours were warmer than the ones preceding them. On average.
Tonight, long after sunset, the fact that it’s still February will set in. Without cloud cover to keep the relatively short day’s heat in, the warmth that has accrued will be dissipated in winds from the north. For a short time, it will be cold. Probably cold enough that tomorrow morning, I will find frost on the ground like I did this morning. In other words, the factors that have led to an overall warming trend will also be responsible for a transient, regional cooling, one that wouldn’t happen without that warming trend.
So the next time you’re tempted to look at the snow on your doorstep as proof that global warming is a hoax, try to remember the last time a lack of cloud cover gave you a clear, warm day followed by a brisk, cool night. Maybe, just maybe, that unseasonable snow came your way because of factors that are making the world hotter overall. Maybe the climate really is more complex than your freezer.