“The Rising of the Usurpers and the Sinking of the Liberties of the People” by Thomas Nast, 1889 (Museum of the City of New York, gift of Mrs. Mabel Nast Crawford).

We have been given a great gift. Every day of this pandemic we are living our civic life increasingly unmoored from government regulation.

In other words, we are living the movement conservative dream. The twin Republican policy priorities are privatizing public services while deregulating private industry. We lack faith in our news business since Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, stripping away media consolidation regulations and allowing a sleazy Aussie like Rupert Murdoch to own newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same markets. The assault on unions liberated bosses from the horrors of collective bargaining, so now wages have frozen while profits and shares have rocketed and the gap between wealth and poverty has spread wider than it has been in a century. Now that more people are voting by mail, we are unsure of the promise that our votes count because our US Postal Service has been under attack by Republican legislative majorities since Reagan.

Meanwhile, the whole reason for the strain our ballots are putting on our Postal Service is that our federal government has abdicated its Constitutional responsibility to “provide for the common defense,” punting any coherent federal pandemic response to the states and following it up with presidential tweets urging anti-health protesters to “LIBERATE” Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia in particular.

How do you like it, so far?

President Trump has spent the run-up to next week’s election touting himself as the finest steward of the nation’s air and water in generations. “Who would have thought,” he boasted during one stop in Florida, “Trump is the great environmentalist?”

But over the course of nearly four years, his administration has steadily loosened oversight of polluting industries, eroded protections for endangered wildlife and stymied Obama-era efforts to address the globe’s most daunting environmental threat: climate change.

But seriously, now. This is about our future. Not just in these United States but around the world. And it is getting worse.

Once upon a time, observing rapid Arctic ice melts and other evidence of anthropogenic climate change, climatologists affiliated with what would become the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both civil and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) continued to rise unabated. The world body and an overwhelming consensus of the international scientific community embraced a goal of reducing the amount of atmospheric CO2 at 350ppm (parts per million) as necessary for stabilizing the environmental damage and preventing ecological catastrophe.

Back on September 24, 2011, I was part of a global event organized by a group called 350(dot)org, mobilizing a global grassroots movement to address the climate crisis by pushing regulatory policies to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to below 350 parts per million.

350(dot)org helped coordinate the Moving Planet day of action with about 2,000 events in over 175 countries. The idea was to hold active carbon neutral events, such as running, cycling, skating, to demonstrate the importance of the world to transition away from carbon emitting fossil fuels and set a common goal of 350ppm as the “safe upper limit” for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was measured in September of 2011 at 392ppm. The latest available data from NASA shows atmospheric CO2 measured 415ppm.

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