brave new debate

A friend — I do have a few — was giving me the lowdown a couple months back. Yes, it came this direct: You know, architects don’t get depressed, reporters do.

I admit it can be rotten simply following current events, you don’t have to report on them to lose heart or misplace those sunshinier bearings. But when you do it for a living, there is no off button. No vacation from the absurd cadence of political process and rampaging inhuman values otherwise known as economics.

I got to thinking on this recently when I noticed the almost absolute disappearance of global warming from the national discussion. It seemed to coincide precisely with the launch of the presidential debates. After thirty years, what had appeared to have finally settled into national priority status, wasn’t. Just like that. WTF?

While I’m not a member (how did Groucho put it?), I was tickled to hear another Third-Party assessment about the same time this realization was clicking over, this one by Green Party Boss John Rensenbrink

The Republican party is imploding. The Democratic party has lost its way… It’s up to a third party now to inspire the hearts and minds of millions of Americans.

Of course, the Third Party dilemma is not a minor hump. Many have tried to crack the party code and failed. And failed again. I wish the Greens luck and will do the little things I can, as I would for the Indys as well. But today, right now, is the Wrong Time to be playing Third Party catch up. What we desperately need is an immediate interruption of the debate. We need Global Warming back at the heart of discussion, and along with it we need stem cells, and nanotech, and bioterror, and cloning.

Two efforts are underway to force that.

One: The League of Conservation Voters has a drive demanding Global Warming debate.

Global warming is the biggest issue looming in our future. The key to meeting this challenge is strong national leadership. The 2008 presidential nomination process is an opportunity to cultivate that leadership.

This election will be the most wide-open in nearly eighty years, with more than a dozen candidates vying for the nominations. The leadership of these candidates will determine the legacy we leave our children.

The goal of The Heat Is On is to raise the debate on global warming and make it a priority issue during the presidential primaries.

Two: Just as valuable and, sadly, just as unlikely to get its due, is the broader need for tech speak being championed by a consoritum under the banner Science Debate 2008.

We have noticed that science and technology lie at the center of a very large number of the policy issues facing our nation and the world – issues that profoundly affect our national and economic security as science and technology continue to transform our lives. No matter one’s political stripe, these issues pose important pragmatic policy challenges.

We believe these scientific and technological policy challenges can bring out the best in the entrepreneurial American spirit. America can be a leader in finding cures for our worst diseases, inventing the best alternative energy sources, and graduating the most scientifically literate children in the world – or we can concede these economic and humanitarian benefits to other countries.

Those of us in South Texas also yearn for policies that are driven with humanity at the heart, not the cold ‘security’ of border walls and fences. When we speak of education, we know that means training all levels of society for the hi-tech and earth-tech. That we need to actively be moving toward a sustainable agricultural system and shifting away from our soil-depleting and water-intensive past and present.

We want a growing research community, but one that is charged with discovering cures and charting a course to benefit humanity, not crafting irretrievable manufactured military pathogens.

We want dignity and work for all, and the economic transformation and well-being that would come from decentralizing our power system (nuke-free) and replacing it with massive investment in efficiency programs, solar construction and employment, and micropower development.

And, yeah, when I think about it, maybe I would be happier as an architect or a surveyor (same statistical category, no matter how thick or funky the eyeglass frames), but I remind myself that I’ve managed to avoid food service for a number of years now. Now those folks are off the chart. Rather than flippin’ compressed cow, we could retoolan economy that honors and supports the revitalization of family farms again. Despite the long hours and harsh sun, farmers are, statistically speaking, not feeling the pain of the fry cook.

Oh, and what I said about Party Talk. Feel free to disregard that. Hell, do whatever it takes to shake this baby up. Just don’t break anything we might need later, like sunny euphemisms, serotonin baths, and those oh-so-reliable Diebold voting banks.

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