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From the Woodbridge Democratic Town Committee – September 2021

The WDTC is by definition a partisan political organization; its priorities and activities are meant to promote and advance Democratic ideals, principles, and candidates – as difficult as they are to agree upon, sometimes – to the best of its ability.

There are currently two public policy areas that have reached crisis proportions however, urgently demanding immediate action, that utterly defy partisan definition, bickering, or gamesmanship of any kind.

The first of these is containment of the ongoing, deadly, and disruptive coronavirus pandemic. This still-spiraling public health crisis has already had dire, unimaginably tragic consequences: the death of more than 600,000 Americans is attributed to the virus, wholesale economic upheaval has tossed asunder the livelihood, career, and retirement of countless others, and an entire generation of students has now lost irreplaceable classroom time and irretrievable rites of passage.

And yet many people continue resisting the two proven, repeatedly recommended, and common sense antidotes to the pandemic: getting a readily available, free, and effective vaccine, and wearing a mask while in proximity to others, to minimize the exchange of shared air.

Last century, the world rejoiced as one when vaccines were introduced to curb polio, and then measles. Just last year, the world clamored as one for an effective vaccine to ward off the coronavirus and COVID-19. This year there are several effective vaccines; it confounds me that so many people remain so resistant to promoting them and/or getting one.

Beyond that, I don’t understand persistent refusal to protect others – and oneself – by wearing a simple facemask while indoors and in the presence of others.

The entire history of our culture can be described as an effort to protect and improve upon existing conditions to the benefit of one another. We support public safety efforts, public education, and public works projects with that goal in mind. We routinely abide by traffic laws to help ensure our own safety and the well-being of others. Why is there suddenly a line drawn when it comes to wearing a small, paper mask to protect public health?

At this writing parents, teachers, and boards of education in states with the highest infection rates are beginning to ignore the edict of government officials there who banned mask requirements in schools. Courts are beginning to back them up, and more and more private sector employers are beginning to require mask use among employees as well. Here’s hoping these common sense efforts toward the common good prevail.

A second public policy topic of grave concern is unmitigated global warming and its impact on destructive, now undeniable climate change. At the risk of stating the obvious, there is only one Earth. There should be wholesale, global efforts to protect and preserve it, absent political maneuvering.

Last month, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued what was described as ‘the most thorough report on climate change ever compiled,’ and its result is nothing less than a ‘code red for humanity,’ according to the U.N. secretary-general. The IPCC report was endorsed by 195 governments around the world.

Alarmingly, the report concludes that Earth will continue warming for at least the next 30 years, even if climate change becomes an immediate priority. In the context of wildfires raging not only in the American west, but in Russia, and Australia (last year), in light of recent flooding in Europe, ravaging tropical storms and hurricanes in both hemispheres, and in the face of high temperature extremes shrinking ice caps, melting glaciers, and literally baking wildlife to death, debate about whether we’re killing the planet must end so plans to save the planet can move forward.

There is already widespread agreement that fossil fuels must no longer dominate long-range planning re: global energy reserves. Electricity, more of which can be generated using technology to harness wind and solar energy, must assume a far greater share of the burden. To use electricity more efficiently, resources must be invested in infrastructure – from the power grid itself to mass transit to electric vehicles – to benefit all who share the planet and the responsibility for preserving it.

In an increasingly polarized culture, in these two policy areas anyway, continuing dialogue happens at our collective peril about how serious the trouble is, who or what’s to blame, and who’s going to get credit for fixing it. Irrefutable numbers, undeniable trends, and other emerging evidence make an open-and-shut case: there simply isn’t time enough for talk anymore.

 

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