From: Planet Earth
To: Donald Trump; the Kochs; the Waltons; Ted Cruz; Ben Carson; execs of Wall St., Monsanto and the oil companies; et cetera; on the occasion of the COP21 Paris Agreement
Dear The Donald et al.,
I’m pretty forgiving about most things, because I know someone only really learns something when they realize it and choose to change for their own sake, so I’ve let you continue with some rather large delusions for some time, in the hopes that the natural consequences piling up from your actions would cause you to wise up. As your actions are causing to unravel the very fabric of your survival, however, I think it only fair to offer you this heads up.
In short: money doesn’t make you a winner. I know that statement runs contrary to how you define success, how you at present define your entire sense of self worth, but bear with me for a minute and I’ll help you think it through.
Your actions, individually and collectively, consist of taking something full of life in pristine careful balance, and turning it into a place that you, personally, would not choose to live on or near for profit, of course.
This is a one-way trip. The way you leave things, they could not be reclaimed to their original state within your lifetime, or perhaps ever.
Now, Donald, I sense you may claim that when you take some swampland in New Jersey or a golf course in Scotland and plant another casino on it, you would have no problem living there, provided of course the staff was up to par, which you feel entirely capable of ensuring (or YOUíRE FIRED!î). However, for you to ìwinî in this way, a lot of people have to lose all or a portion of their livelihoods or their health, so it’s a net negative, for them at least.
When you or the Waltons have succeeded in fleecing an area, you must draw in an ever larger pool of victims, or move on to another area to do the same just as the fossil fool executives are constantly on the lookout for blacker pastures, for oil and coal are non-renewable resources, so when they are through despoiling one area, they must move on to another to keep the business model flowing.
The fact that what you’re doing is causing me to warm, which means I’ll be generating all manner of disruption to your plans is something I know you choose to ignore, so letís go ahead and ignore it for a moment, while we consider what you’ve won.
On the one hand there’s this big pile of cash, which allows you to buy things and order people around. That lets you feel important, and with it you can purchase more pristine areas to feed into the machine to keep the process going.
On the other, there are all these impoverished, desperate people, and blackened, destroyed landscapes, incapable of supporting life: like the (former) mountaintops of West Virginia, the (former) boreal forests of Alberta, or the formerly flourishing Gulf of Mexico; and all the fishermen, coal miners and indigenous people who used to be able to make their living there. The area and the number of people that must be sacrificed to keep the machine going keeps getting larger. It now includes, let’s face it, since your insurance companies already have, all low-lying cities and islands, southern Florida, and much of the world’s current agricultural areas.
Of course you point to the impoverished, desperate people and say they, in their desperation, are destroying things too, which is quite right. Almost without exception however, they are playing in one or another of the casinos you’ve created, in a system which ensures that the majority of winnings from whatever it is they’re doing ends up in the pockets of you and your friends so I’m counting the majority of that destruction in your ledger as well.
But I’m actually helping people, you say, by giving them jobs in your casino, fracking for gas, selling sub-prime mortgages, or whatever. I know in your heart you don’t believe this. Your actions betray it’s really #1 you’re looking out for, as you all take such glory in proclaiming yourselves big winners through your conspicuous consumption, if not through grandiose assertions, as the Donald is wont to make.
You should know, Mother Nature doesnít play by your rules, and she canít be fooled. But let’s pretend for the moment you or your friends actually believe your claims that your intentions and even your actions are benign.
Then you have a choice. You can take your pile of cash and quickly spend it in ways that actually benefit people and the planet. To do this you will have to relinquish control over political processes currently designed to benefit few. (After 21 years the COP agreement is still non-binding?! Really? How clever you must feel!) This will benefit you more in the long run.
Or, you can hang onto your business model, continue pretending you’re helping people while (most importantly!) winning, when it is increasingly obvious to everyone except you and your friends that what you are doing is cutting off the branch you are all sitting on, as quickly as a public cowed by the power of money will allow.
I can fix things, of course. I have all the time in the world, and there are other worlds as well but not for you.
If you choose the latter course what I must say to you, is, survival is my game, not yours. It’s not one you individually will ever win.
The best you can do is to leave a place better than you found it. On balance, I rate that a draw. If you find this strange, consider, I define wealth differently.
Those are house rules. Play by them, or you lose. Big time.
Charles Fredricks is a documentary filmmaker, activist, freelance journalist, and contributing editor of Change-Links, living in Santa Monica