Portrait of Dedication
July 18, 2023
To the Editor:
The obituary for Jeanne Frankl captured her unique intelligence and the unfailing energy with which she pursued the many worthy goals she adopted. When I think of the secret of her effectiveness and her ability to connect with people, I remember her asking questions, always questions, and always more questions when answers were not enough. The subjects ranged from academic to everyday topics, but, no matter the topic or the audience, the curiosity and search for understanding were always there.
Hers was a tenacious intellect, an impulse for inquiry that never left her. Having worked with Jeanne over the course of decades on school governance and related issues I can attest to the portrait of dedication and purpose that continued until the final days of her life. A great friend — to me and so many others.
July 24, 2023
Good Morning, David:
I’m writing to you to thank the paper for the photo of the lifeguards saluting the military helicopter and holding the flag in last week’s paper. Durell Godfrey caught a moment there that made me want to sing “God Bless America”! I’m sure your photo editor, Carissa, has piles of entries to go through before choosing and placing each, but this one could be a poster that pulls us all together again. I’m saving it.
I drive from Hampton Bays to crowded Southampton Village every Thursday to get my East Hampton Star newspaper fix. You all continue to keep your readers informed and entertained. You head a talented team that does “shine for all.”
Against Food Waste
East Hampton Village
July 24, 2023
Dear David and Staff,
Thank you for your editorials and articles about the environmental challenges faced by our community, which includes our fireflies and butterflies, soils and beaches and pets. Your recent coverage of the East Hampton compost pilot program has been fantastic in inspiring our community to take action against food waste.
In the two weeks since the program launched, we’ve seen amazing progress. High school students have started staffing the ReWild EcoTable, where we receive food scraps at the Saturday farmers markets in Springs and Sag Harbor. The number of households dropping off food scraps has doubled, and the amount of scraps has nearly tripled by weight.
With more participants and volunteers, we can make an even larger impact. To learn more about the pilot, register to drop off your food scraps, or volunteer your time, visit easthamptoncompost.org or email [email protected].
Together, we can make recycling food scraps easy for everyone in East Hampton and reduce the burden of food waste. Transforming our food scraps helps East Hampton save money and become more resilient by reducing waste in our community. Households in East Hampton throw out more than $20 million of food each year.
Saving money for taxpayers: The costs associated with handling and disposing or food waste alone are great than $300,000 per year.
Reducing greenhouse gases: Food waste in landfills release methane. Carbon dioxide is produced by incineration as well as trucking waste for disposal. On the other hand, compost traps CO2 in the soil.
Improving soil quality and reducing the use of chemical fertilizers: Compost returns nutrients & organic matter to our soils for healthier plants and more nutritious produce.
Saving water and reducing stormwater runoff: Compost acts like a sponge, helping soil retain water so your garden needs less water. Compost also helps soil absorb stormwater that causes flooding and erosion and harms our beaches.
Attracting butterflies and birds: Compost revitalizes our soils so they can provide the habitat required by butterflies, native bumblebees, fireflies, and birds.
Thank you again for your wonderful support.
July 23, 2023
Thank you, Rav Freidel, for your impassioned plea to keep our beaches clean (An Urgent Request, July 20). Although the extraordinary rainfall in New England precipitated a “trash storm” on our beaches recently, litter is a problem on our beaches and roads throughout the entire year.
How do we make East Hampton litter-free? Don’t toss it. Secure your load. See it, pick it up! It’s that easy.
Do you struggle to understand how anyone can throw trash from their vehicle or boat? Do you wonder why everyone doesn’t secure the back of their pickup in order to prevent boxes, plastic wrapping, and mulch bags (to name a few commonly found roadside items) from flying out of their vehicle? You are not alone.
Influencing behavior in order to create an anti-litter taboo is a challenging task. The East Hampton Litter Action Committee is working toward achieving that goal. As Rav said, there is simple action each one of us can take to make East Hampton litter free: See it, pick it up! Thank you to all who do just that, whether as an organized group or as an individual. Please know we see you and appreciate your tireless efforts — one piece, bucket, basket, or trash bag at a time.
East Hampton Litter Action Committee
Many, Many Millions
July 20, 2023
To the Editor,
Adding to what Perry Duryea III had to say about the Wainscott School funding shortage:
Wasn’t too long ago that some (many?) of the people owning some of the most expensive real estate in the country, worth in the tens of millions each, spent many, many millions over a few years attempting to prevent a cable buried deeply under the beach and roadway to the railroad right of way — the cable that was and is harmless to everyone and invisible and will bring clean power to the entire town.
Too bad they can’t pay a bit more in taxes or even donate to fund their school. Oh, I guess they are part-timers and unlike the locals, don’t have kids of school age to attend Wainscott!
The Real Hero
July 20, 2023
To the Editor,
I am writing in response to Mary Bromley’s July 20 letter to the editor regarding charges of sexual harassment and retaliatory working conditions in the East Hampton Town Police Department.
I learned from her letter that The Retreat was Ms. Bromley’s idea; many kudos to her in that regard. The center has been and continues to be a life-changing and crucial resource for women on the East End.
Ms. Bromley, a licensed clinical social worker, shared that she has a long professional history with the East Hampton Town police. As she recalled her experience with sexism in the department, her letter took an incongruous turn. Ms. Bromley explained that back in the 1980s she felt “comfortable giving it back” and “never felt disrespected” when she was subjected to what she calls “sexy remarks” by male officers.
Her personal feelings about the behavior directed at her — and her response to that behavior — are valid, as they are hers. But her actions and opinions have zero bearing on Officer Andrea Kess.
It’s disappointing that Ms. Bromley, who could have been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, instead chose to minimize another woman’s experience and elevate her own.
I hope her proclamation that “mediation is the best way to . . . solve problems” doesn’t apply to the survivors of domestic violence at The Retreat. As we know, mediation is also the best way to keep bad behavior hushed up.
Officer Kess is the real hero here. She doesn’t deserve anything but accolades for standing up for herself.
July 17, 2023
To the Editor,
My question is why is there no crosswalk at Indian Wells and Route 27? And why is there no crosswalk at Old Stone Highway and the same Route 27, yet the golf course on Old Stone Highway sports, not one, but two crosswalks! Would it kill the state to slap a little paint down before someone is run over?
I’ve lived here 40 years, and for most of that time Amagansett was a sleepy little hamlet that perhaps did not need these crosswalks of which I am speaking, and to which I am sounding an alarm about as loud as I possibly can, before we are all reading about yet-another fatality on the battlefield between cars versus the rest of us.
I was on my bicycle today, July 17, trying my best to negotiate the task that is at this point completely and utterly perilous at said crossing of Indian Wells and Route 27. I know there is one near the library and another one close to the I.G.A. — that is no excuse. We certainly need those two crosswalks that are already in place. Yet I’m am here to tell you unless the state puts two more crosswalks where I have stated and that I believe are needed, someone will, in fact, be run over. It’s only a matter of time.
It is this current crop of intruders who speed up and never slow down who are the real problem and culprits. Hell, even in the crosswalks we already have no one is safe!
I was a bicycle messenger in Manhattan when I was much younger and way more able, and it was only the experience I developed way back then that saved me today from being annihilated, not once, but three times, at these extremely busy intersections. Crossing there, I felt I was literally putting my life at risk and in the hands of these speeding yahoos!
I am imploring the town to pressure the state to consider these suggestions.
A Few Tables
July 24, 2023
I have lived here all my life and always thought the traffic was caused by the beaches, boating, and general beauty of the East End. Then of course, the workers’ traffic to maintain and service the second-home owners. What a fool I was — it was because the restaurants adding tables. The bicycle riders that think the road belongs to them is a much bigger problem than a few tables. God bless Bea Derrico.
July 24, 2023
Two weeks ago on a Wednesday night, we sat on Main Street in East Hampton. It was 9 o’clock, and the streets were empty. The stores closed. The only signs of life were the moving shadows of the guards inside the new high-end shops. It was very kind of eerie.
The other day, we ran into friend who happened to be our neighbor when we moved here in 1978 from France. She, along with our kids, did theater at Guild Hall. We only knew her by her nickname until about 20 years ago. Seeing her set off a flood of memories that went back 45 years.
We had rented an old house without much heat on David’s Lane. We only spoke French at home and knew a handful of people. On the street were the Bertis, who were old Italian to the core. The Leons were from Spain and Venezuela. Clifford Irving was from everywhere. The neighbors were eclectic and interesting.
The shock of East Hampton in the winter of 1978 was the paucity of food. Most of the restaurants were closed. The supermarket (maybe A&P) had no edible produce. After making a tour of the supermarket, my wife walked home in tears. The cheese shop looked promising. The Seafood Shop seemed good once we got a car.
Yet, East Hampton was cool and got cooler as the weather warmed. Every day we walked into town and stopped in Arthur Williams’s antiques store. We visited with the Mahmousians in their shoe store and talked in French. Mary Kanovitz at Promised Land also spoke French and was a special delight to spend time with.
There was a French restaurant on Main street where Douglas Elliman is, a five-and-ten, a coffee shop, another shoe store, and two hardware stores. The cheese shop gave way to Dean and DeLuca, which gave way to Ina’s shop and morphed into Citarella. Williams Funeral Home (the sponsor for the East Hampton Oldstars softball team), became a bank.
Things change over time, but it is only in retrospect that we can appreciate what we’ve gained or lost. When the village bought Sally Ball’s house and moved up the block, it was clearly an upgrade from the old spot. When Lyons Bar and Grill eventually turned into Cittanuova the decor and food quality took a big jump upward. Barbara made Babette’s a huge upgrade from the previous shop and welcomed the community. Babs’s successor, Sant Ambroeus, is beyond almost everyone’s reach.
The real estate world with the arrival of big New York companies changed significantly. Before N.Y. and computers and social media there were personalities, almost every office run by someone uniquely interesting: Tina Fredericks, Gina Beadle, Alan Schneider, Carlo Grossman, Michael Braverman, and Frank Newbold. Real estate was fun, quirky, very personal. Real estate is a piece of the town’s soul. That part disappeared. Do corporations have souls?
I once wrote a piece about too much yoga chat and too many green Jeeps, around 1987. Doesn’t seem very ominous, just the awareness of conformity.
The film festival was created and operated by locals. It was a big deal to us but nothing like the current deal.
Where East Hampton is and what the future brings are hard to determine. For sure it no longer resembles what it used to be. There doesn’t seem much reason to go to town anymore. Sag Harbor remains more low-key with lots of charm. Cool is out of date, and we probably are as well.
July 23, 2023
This summer cinched it for me — we are already living and dealing with the effects of climate overheating and many of us are feeling East Hampton is out of balance.
For weeks, East Hampton has received warnings from the weather service that the air that we breath is dangerous. We are told to stay indoors, but we all love our beaches and trails. Smoke from wildfires in the north contains methane (poisonous to our respiratory system) and particulates that irritate and stay lodged in our lungs and are a cause of cancer; ask our emergency responders who were there on 9/11.
Adding to our harmful air has been a recent 30 percent increase in building permits. This rapid influx of second-home owners fleeing the Covid crisis in New York City and settling in their summer residences year round brings a rapid excessive increase in traffic and methane emitted by gas-guzzling cars. Then there is the idling trade parade vehicles all spewing a conga line of dangerous carbon pollution into East Hampton’s air.
Our harmful high temperatures are rising to dangerous levels for us and our seniors and pets. Normally, heat rises and then condenses due to cooler air in the atmosphere, but our air is now more polluted and trapped by the “greenhouse effect” of poisonous carbon above us. The result is less-to no-condensation that releases rain and snow in East Hampton and replenishes the aquifer below us, our only source of drinking water.
That brings more bad news. The Hamptons are in a drought alert. This is very important. Our aquifer, a narrow lens of fresh water sitting on hard rock 1000 feet below us, means that whatever pollutants we put on our lawns and down our drains and toilets seep into our only source of our drinking water. That lens can not only get polluted (the first layer already is), it can be used up. Nassau County has had a longtime backup plan to ask us if we can pipe some of our aquifer west to them.
East Hampton is beautiful but it is also fragile. The air we are breathing is becoming harmful. The water we drink is in danger of being polluted or can dry up. Just look at the mud hole that was Two Holes of Water.
The solution to this very serious situation when our health, safety, quality of life, and property values are threatened is clear: East Hampton needs a population cap. Elected officials have the zoning power to put forth a referendum asking our registered voters to adopt a stop to rapidly increasing development that reflects the goals of the comprehensive plan, and regulations in the land-use map and zoning code. It needs to be done now.
Escape the Worst
July 18, 2023
To the Editor:
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been developing technologies that create new needs and new means of production to satisfy themselves in an expanding cycle with escalating environmental consequences. Many feel a strong sense of nostalgia for a simpler time when we weren’t capable of causing our own extinction. But we can’t go back, and who would really want to?
The only way forward is to replace the technologies that are heating and despoiling our planet with better ones that will enable us to escape the worst consequences of our past and present folly.
This will come about only if we find the political will to put the true price of pollution into the things we buy so that the invisible hand of economics will guide us toward sanity. When it comes to global warming, the best mechanism to do that is carbon fees and dividends. I’ve written about this before, so will only point you toward the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website, cclusa.org, to find out more.
Equally important, we need to stop insisting that everything new must be environmentally perfect. No technology, not even solar energy, is pristine. Instead, we need to look toward solutions that are, if not perfect, far better for the environment than what we have now. And when they’ve been developed, we need to stop blocking their deployment for reasons that sound environmental but are really just Not In My Back Yard.
We need to streamline the approval process for wind and solar projects and the transmission lines that connect them to people. We need a process that will address real environmental concerns but not allow the law to be used to block whatever is new just because it doesn’t line up with someone’s perfectionist ideology or narrow self-interest.
July 20, 2023
Republicans are playing politics with our water quality.
We all should be concerned about the fragility of the East End ecosystem. Many of us chose to live here because of the beauty and recreation that our local waters provide. Yet we have become all too aware in recent years of more-frequent beach closures stretching across the entire East End due to harmful bacteria in our water. This has impacted not only recreation, but the economic lives of our citizens. Each fall we read about the declining bay scallop harvests, which imperil our local fishing interests. The main cause is nitrogen pollution, the main sources of which are the outmoded cesspools and septic systems many of us use.
Relief could have been on the way. If passed, the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act would have created a fund to restore clean water by connecting homes and businesses to sewers and, for areas of the East End without sewers, finance clean-water septic system replacements. The act would also create a window to obtain state and federal funding to aid that work. The cost to us — a measly 1/8-of-a-cent increase to the county sales tax.
It is unfortunate that the Republican-led County Legislature doesn’t share our concern. Shockingly, on June 21 the Legislature voted not to allow the water quality act even to come before voters for approval this November. This irresponsible and inexcusable act jeopardizes access to funding for decades and stalls work needed to reverse the nitrogen pollution of our waters.
The proposed relief has wide bipartisan town, state, and federal government support, as well as the support of scientists and environmentalists and the union workers who would benefit from the jobs the work would create. We must urge our County legislators to put our environment and our well-being instead of playing this petty political game.
The County Legislature has one last chance to protect clean water and let voters decide: July 25. We need to tell the rest of the Suffolk County Legislature to reconsider their decision and let the voters decide their clean water future and put the Water Quality Restoration Act on the 2023 November election ballot.
Now for a broader point: We have watched many Suffolk local and county governments trend more Republican over the past few elections. Now we see the dire consequences that Republican politics will have on our future. Their action on the water bill is proof that they cannot be trusted with the keys of government.
This fall Suffolk County voters get to elect a new county executive. The choice is clear: It should be Dave Calone.
July 20, 2023
First, let me state that I am not a “gun nut” nor am I a member of the National Rifle Association. I do not much like the N.R.A. I believe in strict gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people, psychopaths, people prone to violence, people with criminal convictions, and other assorted evil individuals.
I am a member of the Maidstone Gun Club who occasionally visits the club to shoot a few rounds. I admit to being a less-than mediocre sharpshooter, but I enjoy shooting at targets. To me, it is therapeutic and a stress reliever. Some people like yoga, some prefer soaking in a hot tub. I prefer to bang off a few rounds.
The gun club, including the subterranean pistol range, was recently closed by a judge who stated that there were safety issues because several neighboring homes were hit by bullets that were fired by rifles from the club. I do not know if the judge ever bothered to visit the club, but I doubt it. If he had bothered to visit, he would have seen that it is physically impossible for a rifle bullet fired from the Maidstone Gun Club to hit a neighboring house.
The rifle range contains box tunnels that limit the vertical trajectory of the rounds to a few feet above ground level and then into a huge sand and earth berm. There are only two ways that a bullet fired from Maidstone could have hit a neighboring house:
The round is fired and immediately jumps 100 vertical feet in the air after exiting the box tunnel. After traveling a mile or two, the bullet then drops vertically into a house but misses the roof and hits an exterior wall.
The round is fired and jumps 30 vertical feet after exiting the box tunnel. The round then travels a mile or two, carefully dodging hundreds of trees by shuffling left and right (like a great point guard), before hitting a home.
Seems to me the real issue here is not safety, but noise. Buying a house near a pre-existing gun club would not be a choice for me, just like I would never buy a home near a noisy airport.
And that is why I love Montauk.
Asking for Trouble
July 15, 2023
Maybe your readers would like to know what’s been going on with the apartments owned by the East Hampton Town Housing Authority under its executive director, Catherine Casey.
From the outside, it looks like the tenants are lucky to have an apartment there, and they are, except that I am friends with a couple that lives in one, and I think the public should know the price they pay to live there, besides the “affordable” rent.
Catherine Casey manages the Accabonac, Amagansett, and Springs-Fireplace Road apartment complexes. (The new Three Mile Harbor complex being built by Damark’s and Montauk Apartments are also run by the East Hampton Town Housing Authority, but I don’t know if Ms. Casey also manages them).
The tenants live in fear of retaliation from Ms. Casey for making any kind of complaint about things that the housing authority is supposed to take care of, but doesn’t. My friends have a list of repairs that need to be done in their apartment building, but they don’t ask because they know they will be ignored or worse if they make waves and aggravate Ms. Casey.
Asking for standard maintenance repairs like painting the apartments, fixing the damage in many people’s bathrooms and kitchens caused by leaks, fixing sinkholes in the roads, fixing areas with mold and mildew, fixing worn, loose, and rotting wood and railings, or adding lighting for safety at night, can get you into trouble with Ms. Casey. Fixing anything that costs money doesn’t get done.
Many times, Ms. Casey doesn’t take phone calls from tenants, and they can only leave messages with the women in the office. My friends tell me that’s where complaints go to die.
Most tenants in all three complexes know Ms. Casey’s pattern for targeting and harassing the people she has an issue with. Ms. Casey finds way to attack them by creating violations that she pulls out from gray areas in the lease. The harassment comes in on frequent notices tied to the tenants’ front doors.
Ms. Casey issued letters to some of the tenants who chose to fly the American flag in front of their apartments, demanding that they take them down. In apartment complexes built with taxpayer money, she doesn’t allow the American flag to fly? Or maybe it’s just that Ms. Casey doesn’t like the American flag.
The notices demand the tenants get their rent to Ms. Casey’s office by the early afternoon on the Friday before if the rent is due on a weekend, and threatens them with big late fees if it’s received after she leaves her office early. That doesn’t even sound legal. The notices often threaten termination of the lease if the tenants do not comply with her demands. The notices have also threatened tenants with losing their right to park their own cars in the complex.
Tenants aren’t allowed to have guests stay overnight without permission from Ms. Casey — even if it’s a family member, it doesn’t matter. It’s not allowed and will get you a threatening letter tied to your door. If you are dating someone, and that person sleeps over and parks their car in the complex? That’s a problem that will get you a nasty letter tied to your door.
The people living in the apartments have no one to file a complaint with when being targeted and harassed by either Ms. Casey or the women in the office who follow her instructions, because there is no manager higher than Ms. Casey. Ms. Casey’s attitude is, if the tenant doesn’t like it, they can move out, because we have a long list of people waiting to get in.
Ms. Casey seems to enjoy her power to make tenants feel defeated and hopeless. The tenants know they have no recourse and live in fear of being targeted by her.
It’s sad that my friends and everyone else who lives in the complexes has to deal with the hostile and neglectful treatment from the East Hampton Town Housing Authority under Ms. Casey. It’s a shame because all of those apartments could be very nice places to live. It’s just that they’re not.
Acres to Get Started
July 23, 2023
I read with interest last week’s article by Christine Sampson on the plight of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital to maintain an effective network of health providers here due to a lack of housing options. As noted, if doctors earning $250,000 a year, nurses making $100,000, and technicians earning $60,000 a year can’t afford to live here it only underscores the issue facing every business in East Hampton.
That’s why my proposal for work-force housing is so crucial. It provides some chances for heath care workers, teachers, town employees, and private employers to offer housing for their workers so they can actually live where they work. Radical idea? Common sense, if you can put the nuts and bolts together in a practical way.
We have. If allowed, we can deliver one-to-three-bedroom townhouses for $375,000 to $575,000. The town government certainly understands the need and is very familiar with our proposals. Now we just need them to decide two basic issues: density and location.
We need four to eight units per acre to make this affordable and at least a few sites of five-plus acres to get started. We have identified suitable town-owned sites and shown how densities of that order can work. We just need them to act so that we can work together to address an issue that is tearing the fabric of this town apart.
The town is well equipped with expert planners and compassionate board members who both know the severity and importance of this issue and in whom I have faith who will help us move forward. I look forward to meeting with them soon to put this essential program into high gear.
A Clear Sign
July 23, 2023
Writing this letter about Councilman David Lys and his liaison position to the nature preserve committee has taken me almost three weeks. It is distressful to think about how a person in a position of power could be so rude and condescending to a chairperson of a citizens advisory committee when an important issue like the formalizing of the 555/Amagansett Plains Management Plan was at stake and presented to the nature preserve committee at its regular meeting on July 13.
At the July 6 meeting of the town board, they tossed the draft management plan of 555/Amagansett Plains property back to the nature preserve committee for evaluation of a new plan with requested changes addressed by the Amagansett citizens advisory committee, Amagansett Village Improvement Society, and the Amagansett Library trustees. At their formal meeting on July 13, Councilman Lys actually ran the meeting, rather than allowing the committee co-chairman, Michael Jordan, to do so. That should be a clear sign to the public as to how some committees are being controlled by members of the board.
A new member of the nature preserve committee was on the Zoom-hybrid meeting and had no idea of the 555/Amagansett Plains draft plan or the changes the citizens committee requested. When asked by the member to explain what was going on and about the issue, I was told abruptly by Councilman Lys that he would answer and I could not as I was “only a guest”! I was actually shut down by the bullying tactic of the councilman. I almost felt that he was treating me like a child at his dinner table.
It’s too bad that these committee meetings are not videotaped so residents could see their councilman in action. Let’s see if the 555/Amagansett Plains Plan is rightfully addressed at the August nature preserve committee meeting.
Get One Free
July 22, 2023
To the Editor,
Why does our criminal (in)justice system continue to treat horrible crimes committed by dangerous people (felons and convicts) the same generous way retail stores routinely conduct buy-one, get-one-free sales?
I’m referring to the too-common sentencing practice of concurrent, rather than consecutive, sentences for convictions of multiple crimes. Perhaps our courthouses should be draped with banners advertising, “Shoplift one. Get another One Free”; “Murder One. Get Another One Free”; “Rape One; Get Another One Free”; “Scam One Person’s Life Savings. Get Another Victim’s Life Savings Free.”
Bring Down the Fever
July 12, 2023
To the Editor,
I once had the small privilege of playing Ping-Pong with an inspired and slightly inebriated Kurt Vonnegut in remembrance of Michael Klebnikov, who had been killed working for Forbes on a piece on Russian business practices and corruption,. It cost him dearly. But he could have covered American business practices and found equal greed and moral depravity, and the Earth shudders as never before since the dinosaurs. Which we are in the process of becoming.
Wouldn’t it be unbelievable if we loved the children as much as what the Yanomami Amazonian elder Davi Kopenawa called “sad leaves,” money? He once said, protesting the slaughter of his people by gold miners and cattle ranchers, whatever is happening to us, will happen to you.
The Atlantic and Antarctic currents are stalling and the Amazon is on the edge of dieback. Can we possibly imagine this new Earth? Decades ago, we could have listened to our scientists and concerned citizens who warned us about climate change. We could have changed the path of our fate In 2000, the election that was truly stolen and that set the pace and direction of the century. That is when we probably lost civilization. George W. Bush could not fathom having an intellect in the guise of Al Gore become president, Heaven forbid. Several hundred thousand African-Americans in Florida were denied the vote — and they say George won by 537 votes.
In fact, the first big steal was orchestrated by Ronald Reagan, who made sure that the hostages in Iran were not released until after the election. So much for the Republican order of things. Jimmy Carter saw the need to take care of the world. He put solar panels on the roof of the White House; Reagan made sure to dismantle them. Iraq was forced upon us, and everything unraveled, especially the environment. Under Bush, the Environmental Protection Agency established that it was no longer making it a priority to clean up the nation’s rivers, streams, lakes because the effort to combat terrorism comes first, which leaves little resources to fight water pollution.
For several decades the oil and gas companies have denied climate change, now become climate havoc, mostly spearheaded by those in the Republican sphere. Now entire cities like Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio are frying under 104-degree weather, and Vermont has been flooded apocalyptically.
A month after weakening water standards, gutting the Clean Air Act became a priority back in 2001. Opening up gold mines, mineral extraction of every conceivable kind was the established protocol — profits before children and life itself. That has been the American way ever since World War II, as it was under the orange toupee deemed a president in 2016. America won the war, but lost the peace and the ability to salvage the Earth and with it, the life force of our only home. The children of the future will curse this time and the people who brought it to fruition.
Recently seals, dolphins, whales, and manatees have been dying by the hundreds on both coasts. Will there be anything for the children of the future to look forward to if this devastation continues? From where will come their sense of wonder and the miracle of life if the entire rug of existence is pulled out from under them? The enormous heat of the world is upon us. It is irreversible. Technological fixes will not redeem us. One can be anti-abortion, but if one really believed in the sacredness of life, why pull the rug of life out from underneath the new-born today who will not be able to cope with what we have done to the world?
The U.S. leads all nations in incarceration and gun violence. We are staring down the barrel of fascism, banning books, banning women’s rights to their own bodies, the continued mutilation and trapping of wolves and grizzlies for fun in the northern Rockies, blowing up cubs’ dens for fun, a misplaced sense of manifest destiny, as the early Americans did by the millions to the people of the First Nations.
Henry Miller saw it coming when he declared, “America is the very incarnation of doom. She will bring the whole world down with it.” We gave the world Vietnam — a pure tragedy — and then Iraq — a calamity. We antagonized Russia, as explained by experts who showed how missiles pushed up against the border of the former Soviet Empire forced them to react, and now we have Ukraine and Russia and China to contend with for the remainder of our earthly stay. If we allow yet another election to be stolen in 2024, this young democracy is over.
The quarterly profits mentality managed by the military-industrial-petrochemical complex has never thought of the health of the planet. And America, with its friends in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, has helped to light the time bomb of the atmosphere. We use a quarter of the world’s fossil fuels. America, like Brazil of late, enabled environmental fascism to run wild. We are not the only culprits, but we enabled the sixth extinction and, now, the new era, the Anthropocene. The Earth will never be the same again.
If the ice caps melt, as estimated $60 trillion of the world’s economy will sink. Civilization will unravel. Twenty years ago, George W. Bush skipped the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development. The future of the world was not a priority. Let us remember the origins and source of the mayhem we are undergoing. And the Interior Department exclaimed that it was right for government to be “relieved of the burden” of the Endangered Species Act. When Jane Addams, Nobel laureate in the 1930s wrote, “Society cares more for the products it manufactures than for the immemorial ability to affirm the charm of existence,” she knew that America and civilization were losing their soul.
The Arctic that used to be 12 meters thick resembles a flotilla of ice cubes by comparison to even 50 years ago (read the journals of the Arctic explorers Nansen, Rasmussen, and Cook and be amazed what they had to endure). If we lose the Arctic, we lose the planet and our cooling system. It could happen by 2030. Over 20 years ago in a journal I started when we were doing our first book on Africa “Lost Africa: The Eyes of Origin,” I saw a poll that asked which country poses the greatest threat to world peace. The U.S. got 84 percent. We have made the Al Capone and T rex arrogant, depraved, and ignorant style of doing things (thank you, former president), along with our fascination with machines and artificial intelligence, our savior, which will be our undoing, for machines cannot feel — under this heat we barely can either. Soon we may have food riots.
The children in Europe can still try to blockade traffic and parliaments, for they still have a conscience and are desperately trying to tell their political and business leaders to wake up. Meanwhile, the oceans reel; orcas are taking their revenge against us because of overfished seas, while the temperatures of the seven seas roil. I can only hope against hope that by decades end something will have forced us to bring down the fever of the world, even two-tenths of a degree. Today all the hierarchies have broken down: In every field off human endeavor we are faced with chaos. There is no choice, only to surrender. Surrender to the flux, to the drift towards a new and unthinkable order.