The Ocean Is Coming

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By the 2050s, 800,000 in New York could be living in a flood zone that would cover a quarter of the land. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

This post originally appeared at Truthout.

It occurs to me that I spend an inordinate amount of time in this space pointing out the ludicrous, the extreme and the absurd in America. Doing so is just slightly less fun than emergency root canal during a national novocaine shortage. To be fair, however, there’s a hell of a lot to talk about in that particular vein, the fodder for these stories are the people running the country, and not nearly enough people in a position to inform the public are talking about it, so I do it.

When a Virginia GOP senator labels all women as incubators – “some refer to them as mothers,” he said – someone needs to shine a light.

When 65 miles of the Mississippi River gets shut down due to a massive oil spill, including the port of New Orleans, when that causes public drinking water intakes to be shuttered, and no bit of it makes the national news, someone needs to say it happened.

The ocean is coming, higher and higher each year, so we can either run for high ground, or we can adjust our behavior.

When the Tokyo Electric Power Company, a.k.a. Tepco, announces that radiation levels at the disaster zone formerly known as the Fukushima nuclear power plant are being “significantly undercounted,” and nary a word is said about it in the “mainstream” news, someone needs to put the word out.

These serial astonishments make for easy copy, and pointing them out is important for no other reason than they actually and truly fa-chrissakes happened, and people need to know…but merely pointing at absurdity for the sake of exposure changes nothing to the good and turns politics into just another broadcast of a car chase that ends in a messy wreck.


I believe the minimum wage should be somewhere between $15 and $20 an hour, and that all the so-called business “leaders” crowing against any raise to that wage are self-destructive idiots. Commerce needs funds in the hands of consumers to survive and thrive and consumers today are barely handling rent. Put more money in the worker’s pocket and he will spend some of it at your store, because he can. The minimum wage has been stagnant for 30 years, and is due for a right and proper boost. If people don’t have money, your store won’t sell any goods. Get out of your own way and pay your people, so they can have money to spend on what you’re selling. This strikes me as simple arithmetic.

I believe the weather is going crazy because there is an enormous amount of moisture in the atmosphere due to the ongoing collapse of the Arctic ecosystem. More water in the atmosphere leads to fiercer storms and higher tides and every major city on the coast is under dire threat. The ocean is coming, higher and higher each year, so we can either run for high ground, or we can adjust our behavior. The ocean is coming and it brooks no argument. It is stronger than all of us and will take what it pleases.

I believe the Keystone XL pipeline, the drought-causing national practice of fracking, the coal-oriented water disasters in West Virginia and North Carolina, the serial poison spills nationwide, the oil train derailments and the entire practice of allowing the fossil fuels industry to write its own regulations so as to do as it pleases, are collectively a suicide pact that I did not sign up for. The ocean is coming, unless we find a better way.

I believe President Obama, who talks about the environment while pushing the Keystone pipeline, who talks about economic inequality while demanding fast-track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, is a Hall-of-Fame worthy bulls–t artist. I believe the sooner people see this truth for what it is, the better. He is not your friend. He is selling you out.

I believe the 50 percent of eligible American voters who can’t be bothered to turn out one Tuesday every two years should be ashamed of themselves, because this is a good country, but if that goodness doesn’t show up at the polls, we wind up in this ditch with a bunch of self-satisfied non-voters complaining about the mess we’re in. Decisions are made by those who show up, and lately, the small minority of hateful nutbags showing up become a large majority because they’re the only ones pulling the lever.

And that’s for openers.

These things are happening nationally, but they are also happening locally, right in your back yard. These are your fights, in your communities, involving your air and drinking water and basic rights. The ocean is coming, boys and girls, and it will sweep us all away with a flick of its finger — rich and poor, powerful and powerless alike — unless we figure out a few home truths at speed and make serial changes to the way we operate on this small planet.

Stand up.

William Rivers Pitt is Truthout’s senior editor and lead columnist. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted here with permission.

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