In Greek mythology, Gaia* is the personification of the Earth.
Today, Mother Earth Gaia is in big trouble. I mean today, not tomorrow but right now.
It has deadly enemies. Greed, first and foremost. That and the fake science that tries to obscure truth in the service of greed. The odds for Gaia are lot worse since the Trump regime came to power.
[Sunday May 21, 2017, The New York Times: “Pruitt’s EPA Is Boon to Oil and Gas.”]
The words of the corporate interests that already are benefitting from this boon speak loud and clear that the Times headline is not fake news:
‘“Not in our wildest dreams, never, did we expect to get everything,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance, a Detroit-based association of oil and gas companies.’”
The New York Times, Saturday May 20:
“Antarctic Dispatches: A Continent at Risk
“The Ross Ice Shelf, a floating chunk of ice the size of California, is stable for now. But a rapid disintegration of Antarctic ice could cause sea level to rise as much as six feet by the middle of the century, deluging major coastal cities, including New York.”
Defiance of the deity Gaia comes at a steep cost: Miami, Savannah, Charleston, New York and many smaller cities and towns along the Eastern seaboard as well as major cities and towns along the Pacific coast. As the citizens of Miami Beach know all too well, sea level rise is happening right now. I myself have been thinking of buying a kayak.
Strike that, this is too serious for our Cuban irreverence, choteo, that untranslatable word that describes the brand of humor we so often use to take the edge off minor and major disasters and to poke fun at illegitimate authority.
Were this matter not so grave, choteo would be a perfect tactic for coping with the minor disasters already upon us and the much worse ones on the horizon. For Pruitt, a fierce opponent of the agency he heads and a toady for the energy industry, is the embodiment of illegitimate authority and the conflicts of interests that permeate the Trump administration.
With Pruitt in charge of protecting the environment, you don’t have a case of the fox guarding the henhouse. It’s more serious than that, like a Komodo dragon shepherding a herd of deer, the favorite food of this fearsome creature, the most dangerous and largest lizard on Earth, growing as large as ten feet and weighing as much as 150 pounds.
The collision course on which Gaia and greed are headed could not be clearer. On the one hand, you have the Trump-Pruitt environmental policy of giving the energy companies nearly carte blanche, rolling back Obama-era restrictions and regulations enacted to curb greenhouse emissions, reduce pollution of water and air, and prevent adverse effects for human health. To top it off, the administration is even considering opening protected areas, such as national monuments, to mineral exploitation.
In a nutshell, Trump is saying to the energy industry, burn, baby, burn, and the environmental consequences be damned. Let Antarctica melt, along with Greenland and the glaciers. Thus, right now, greed, personified in the industry representative who gushed in ecstatic disbelief that “in our wildest dreams, never, did we expect to get everything,” is winning the fight against Gaia, hands down.
On the other hand, unless the United States and other major polluters make a radical change in policy soon, Mother Earth will have its revenge. It will be a doozy, affecting not only polar bears and penguins but all of humanity.
Future generations who will suffer the worst consequences will judge the environmental non-stewardship of Trump and Pruitt as simply criminal. For, right now, the fate of the Earth is poised on a knife’s edge. Bad environmental policy could quickly tip the balance, setting off unstoppable forces.
The meltdown of Antarctica, with its awful consequences, is at an early but accelerating stage. Scientists debate whether the process can be slowed down or already past the point of no return. They all agree, however that, if policies such as those of the current administration in Washington continue for any length of time, the meltdown will be impossible to stop.
What are we talking about, exactly? Sixty percent of the freshwater on Earth consists of the vast ice sheets of Antarctica. What may be happening to them is of critical, global significance. There is much scientists don’t know yet, but they are seeing ominous signs:
The New York Times, cited above: “Extensive satellite monitoring began in the 1990s and, within a decade, evidence emerged that the ice sheet was speeding up, retreating and destabilizing. Since then the rate at which some of the glaciers are dumping ice into the sea has tripled. Over 100 billion tons are lost every year.”
Seeing that almost inconceivably number, 100 billion tons, an Administration that valued reason and science over greed and delusions of national greatness would be alarmed and act fast to stop the meltdown. This Administration instead is moving quickly to speed the big melt along. That’s a mistake and a crime of world-historical significance.
The Times article notes that, beginning in the nineteenth century, anthropologists noticed that almost every ancient civilization, from the first one recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Biblical civilizations, have had a flood myth. Terence J. Hughes, a retired glaciologist, believes these origin stories are not just myths: “I think some major flood happened all over the world, and it left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of mankind…”
Drastic changes in sea levels have happened before, but for natural reasons mainly related to solar processes. This time it’s on us. Burn, baby, burn is now the official policy of the United States of Greed. We need to fight like hell to end the Trump-Republican stranglehold in Washington, for our sake and that of Mother Earth, out of which we are made.
* Wikipedia: In Greek mythology, Gaia (/ˈɡeɪ.ə/ or /ˈɡaɪ.ə/ from Ancient Greek Γαῖα, a poetical form of Γῆ Gē, “land” or “earth”), also spelled Gaea, is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess.