Cognitive Dissonance Reigns in Louisiana – The Transition from Myth to Reality
August 18, 2016
By Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar
Residents wade through floodwaters from heavy rains in the Chateau Wein Apartments in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Heavy downpours pounded parts of the central U.S. Gulf Coast on Friday, forcing the rescue of dozens of people stranded in homes by waist-high water and leaving one man dead who became trapped by floodwaters. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
As the current political nominees pander to their bases over the next few months in hopes of occupying the White House where the next occupant will be in the driver’s seat of the United States as it leads the Western world in destroying the biosphere we depend on for species continuance, there is a deluge of epic proportions happening in Louisiana. Although there are some mainstream news stories concerning this ongoing catastrophe, it has not reached the level of everyday importance that it should considering the ramifications of this being one of an ever increasing amount of climate catastrophes, domestically in the U.S. and globally across the world. As Louisiana is a notoriously conservative state whose elected representatives comprise a who’s who of climate change denial, a cynical individual would have to say that it is poetic justice for this region to now experience the end result of policies supported by the masses collectively by way of its chosen leaders.
MELISSA LEAKE/US COAST GUARD/HAN / EPA
Therefore, in an unbiased look at the political extremists that comprise the state house in Louisiana and those in Washington, D.C., it must be asked what has been learned by the residents of Louisiana from the time of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most horrific of ‘natural disasters’ in modern U.S history, to the present day? Even though the truth is that the levee system was faulty due to a crumbling, under maintained, neglected infrastructure and its inevitable collapse caused the New Orleans flooding, the intensity level of the storm was ultimately the catalyst for the levee breach and storms of its kind have increased since that moment in history, all due to climate change. Yet, since that time we have seen the following responses by the inhabitants of that woeful state:
- Former Louisiana State Representative Lenar Whitney has called climate change a hoax
- Louisiana senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy signed a letter asking that FEMA eliminate the requirement that states address climate change in disaster planning to receive federal funding
- Former Governor Bobby Jindal said that climate change was a ‘trojan horse’ for more government regulation
- S. House Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) stated that climate change is a myth and doesn’t need to be addressed
- Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) said that climate change isn’t a threat and is fighting even the toothless White House legislation with a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment to curtail government spending in this regard
What do these people have in common? They are all individuals that were elected in the state of Louisiana AFTER Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Therefore, this has been the response by the masses to the death spiral of their state: open and blatant disregard of the truth by the populace in electing officials such as these. Even among the presumptive more ‘climate change friendly’ Democrats in the state, there hasn’t been much discussion by these party politicians regarding the cause being climate change, as Democratic governor John Bel Edwards has discussed the problem, yet has not come out and placed the flooding at the feet of climate change. Hence, at best, the establishment is sidestepping the issue presently and will continue to act like it is nonexistent by its actions in-between these occurrences, which are becoming shorter and shorter in duration.
Also among right wing pundits, who are the voice of the primarily conservative citizens inhabiting the state of Louisiana that are underwater now, there is denial of climate change being a factor in this catastrophe or its presence at all. Of course, these pundits offer words, but no resources to address the ongoing disaster, other than more plaudits for the same market economy which is the cause of their undoing.
So, it begs the question: when will Americans stop being their own worst enemies? As there is much debate by some people regarding the efficacy of Near-Term Human Extinction (NTHE), it is the modern day American citizens, like those in Louisiana, that continue the behavior which lends the most credence to the argument that we will face species extinction in the not too distant future. The individual actions of the majority of voters in the state of Louisiana and their elected officials is a microcosm of the American mentality as a whole, where it can’t and won’t accept the fragility of our existence on this Earth or digest the ramifications of these set of living circumstances.
This aerial image shows flooded areas in Denhamp Springs, La., on Aug. 13, 2016. (Patrick Dennis / The Advocate)
Hence, these disasters will continue unabated in the near term and definitely continue to grow in ferocity and intensity with the coming years. When will the masses of people begin to take this with seriousness that it needs to be taken is anyone’s guess. Yet as the old saying goes, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Since that is the case, the future does not bode well for those in Louisiana or any of us in the West or the world as a whole since we continue to be the enemy of the drastic changes necessary to circumvent the ongoing ecocide to any type of appreciable degree.
Although these words are not hopeful or positive, they are honest. This is something that is wholly missing in the mainstream discussion about climate change. Or more importantly, the dialogue regarding what we must do to address it in attempt to stave it off, be it futile at this juncture or otherwise.
As religious faith, especially of the Christian persuasion, is a pillar of the American landscape, what we are now learning is that close to 40 inches of rain are to be feared a lot more than a biblical (or mythical) rain inundation of 40 days and 40 nights. Will we heed the warning? All signs point to this not being the case.
And like any time that faith is put before facts, an open, honest conversation about climate change is literally heresy in these times. Yet, the truth is the truth. And the current washing away of Louisiana is proof of this whether anyone wants to accept it or not.