And the band played on

“And the band played on” comes from a powerful protest song called “Ball of Confusion” sung by The Temptations in the late 1960s and written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. It was also the movie title for a 1993 movie about the slow action to address AIDs during the 1980s..

“And the band played on” is a metaphor pulled from the band continuing to play as the Titanic sank. It is used unflatteringly to address inaction by leadership to address major problems. The Temptations pleaded for action to address inequality, maltreatment of Blacks, the Vietnam War and so on. The movie noted how little the White House cared until they realized that heterosexual people could get AIDs as well.

As of this writing, a sixteen year old girl named Greta Thunberg is stepping onto our shores to address climate change. This young hero began her quest for action last year and became a catalyst for student strikes pleading for action. When her critics encouraged her to be a kid, she said she would love to, but the adults are not addressing this issue, so she said she had to do so, since, her generation will be left with the unsolved problems.

Yet, while she is here to address these issues to the United Nations and those in Washington, the US president is rolling back restrictions on methane and carbon release, which was announced yesterday. Further, the president blew off a G7 meeting to discuss climate change and the burning forests in the Amazon.

This type of action from the US president is what I feared most from his winning the 2016 election. I feared reversal of action on climate change from the federal level and the environment becoming second fiddle. Yet, I must confess the environmental degradation caused by this president and the EPA under the watch of fossil fuel lobbyists Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler has been worse than I expected.

Inaction by this White House would actually be an improvement. On top of announcing the US’ departure from the Paris Climate Change Accord, the rolling back of Obama’s climate plan requirements, deletion  of climate change data from the EPA websites and the forcing out or redeployment of climate change scientists is harmful to our planet and country. We are behind on acting because of similar actions when the second Bush White House was filled with fossil fuel people like Vice President Dick Cheney, including Cheney making sure fracking companies were not exposed to the requirements of the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Acts (please Google the 2005 Energy Act and Dick Cheney or the Halliburton Loophole).

Fortunately, there are some good things happening in America in spite of this president. Five automakers are ignoring the rollback of increasing MPG requirements under Trump and siding with California’s new requirements. Their thesis is we want younger people to buy our cars, so we better care about the environment because they do. It should be noted that it was announced today that 67% off Republicans between the ages of 18 – 34 believe we must act on climate change. Their leadership can no longer hide on this issue due to fossil fuel funding of their campaigns.

And, other states, cities and companies are addressing climate change with efforts to remove carbon from the air and put less of it there. Wind and solar energy have taken off as costs have declined and other measures like tidal energy, battery storage,  are under way. I wrote recently about these efforts based on the documentary “Ice on Fire.”

The younger generation gets this. And, to be frank, if the Republican Party does not change its paradigm, they may become obsolete. The band can no longer play on. The Titanic is sinking and we must act. I hear criticism about AOC and the Green New Deal. I recognize it is imperfect, but as I tell people, at least it is a plan. We must come together and figure it out. This is far more urgent than politicians are letting on. Please ask them what they plan to do and if they do not answer satisfactorily, do not vote for them. And, please join voices with the young Ms.Thunberg. She should be heeded.

17 thoughts on “And the band played on

  1. We are of a like mind today, for I have once again written an environmental piece, a rambling mostly. Addressing environmental protections, not only of climate change, but plastics in the ocean, toxic chemicals being used by big agriculture, and the destruction of wildlife, must be the #1 priority, else by the end of this century, we may have no need for an economy, infrastructure or health care. Excellent post, Keith!

      • I fully agree … I would very much like every state, or at least the majority of them, adopt some of California’s environmental policies and laws. Unfortunately, there will always be those who are obsessed by making more and more money and must be forced to put the environment and people first. Otherwise, we likely wouldn’t need a government.

      • Jill, California doing something has clout, as it is the fourth largest economy in the world by itself. A good analogy is New York state has the toughest insurance laws in the country. If you want to sell to New Yorkers, you have to comply. Keith

  2. Mr. T. is a real disaster for the country and our planet. But then again, his presence seems to activate others to take action themselves. I hope this continues once Mr. T. is history.

  3. Note to Readers: In addition to climate change, this article could easily have been written about the following US specfic issues: debt and deficit, gun governance, healthcare, or infrastructure. All of these issues need action. We are leaving too many problems for our kids.

  4. Taking the allegorical message from Genesis and The Garden of Eden Trump, his acolytes and those who placed him there are definitely of The Serpent, for as I recall Adam was put there to take care of the Garden.

  5. I fear the Republican Party, as presently constituted, is already inches away from extinction. And they know it. McConnell especially knows it. Why on earth would he not allow election security bills come to the floor for a vote? Cheating, stealing, and suppressing. That’s how R’s are moving forward. Not moderating their views or trying to find consensus.
    The latest actions from Trump on environment are unconscionable. Reaction from the party? Crickets, just like everything else he’s done. So glad you had the foresight to leave the party Keith. It’s a sinking Titanic and Trump is at the helm. So fitting

    • Many thanks. When I have spoken of the president being a clear and present danger, I have typically included his danger to the GOP with the planet and pur country. But, I left the GOP twelve years ago primarily due to their stances on climate change, gun governance, evangelical fervor and a tendency to make things up. This predates Trump, so the stage was set for him to take advantage of voters. Keith

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