THOLOS OF ATHENA

Friday, February 23, 2007

SO LONG, GOODBYE


Honey bees are disappearing. Nobody seems to know why. Perhaps another casualty of pollution and global warming. With the latest gloomy report of environmental scientists, it appears we humans are short-listed for extinction on our doomed planet along with polar bears, whales and the already vanquished do-do bird.

No doubt the first to go will be those who will be unable to afford to get to higher ground or pay what is certain to be a very high premium to live there. In other words, they will look a lot like the thousands left behind after Hurricane Katrina. Only, this time, they will number in the millions.

Already we're finding out who can or cannot afford the basic necessities, not just food and running water, but heat in winter. Forget health care. Here in Texas, the rich oil man, T. Boone Pickens, is buying up acreage overlying the Ogallala aquifer. Basically, he plans to drain the aquifer needed by West Texas farmers and sell off the water at colossal profits. This will be the sunset of our brief sojourn here. The rich will continue to plunder and profiteer off the rest of us right up to the end—at which point, I suppose, there will be nobody left but them, clutching their purses as they breathe their last in a world that will barely sustain them or their spoiled offspring.

For the present, we are locked in mortal combat over the earth's dwindling oil reserves, all under the guise of making the world “safe for Democracy.” And millionaires. The proposed new oil law cooked up between the U.S. and the Iraqi government leaves no doubt what the real objective was for the Iraq War. Under the new law, Iraq's oil will be handed over to foreign oil corporations, such as Exxon-Mobil, Shell and British Petroleum.

Well, if you can't win the war on the ground, at least you can win it on paper. The new definition of Democracy.

Not all that new, I suppose. From the Mexican War to the present day, Americans have always had a soft spot for bringing freedom and religion to backward people neatly packaged in the latest generation of exploding devices.

And make no mistake. Merely because folks are momentarily disheartened by the present disaster in Iraq should in no way be interpreted to mean they are tired of war, only that they are tired of losing. Give them a new one, such as Iran—looking more imminent by the hour—and once again their optimism will soar.

You would think the announcement of the world's leading scientists that global warming is well-nigh irreversible would render absurd all wars or even the thought of war. Yet, the best thinking of our leaders is not to halt the one in Iraq, but to expand it. And to move aircraft carriers into the Persian Gulf, poised to heap destruction on Iran.

And while bullying other countries (puny enough to be bullied) to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons, we are working night and day on a whole new generation of WMDs for ourselves. To what end? To gain dominion over a world that may not be able to support human life another hundred years? To hand the spoils over to the likes of Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and WalMart?

The sad history of our last stand on the planet will not be any noble effort to join hands with our brothers and sisters around the globe to try to halt what is happening to our beleaguered planet, but instead to bring more destruction, more bloodshed, more misery, as we continue our campaign to grab all that remains of the oil, the gas, the gold, the precious minerals, the jewels, the dinars, the shekels, and finally, inevitably, the water, for ourselves.

Our end, I imagine, will not be unlike the end of that great book by William Golding that I read long ago as a freshman in college, Lord Of The Flies. The adults finally arrive to rescue the children who have been stranded on an island after a plane crash, only to find a rabble of half-naked and painted savages, stalking each other with sharpened sticks. In a final touch of irony, the adult leading the rescue party is decked out in a crisp white naval uniform with brass buttons and epaulets. Now, the question is who will rescue him?

As for those honey bees, once they're gone, I reckon we'll have no more flowers. Which suggests a new line for Pete Seeger's famous song. Well, you'll still be able to get plastic ones—all you want. We'll need oil to make them with, of course. Ah, thus may our wars acquire a whole new relevance—not only to quench the voracious thirst of our cars, but also to maintain a steady crop of flowers—albeit plastic ones—for soldiers' graves.

--Published in the current online issue (Feb. 26) of The Lonestar Iconoclast.

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