The other existential threat

Dear Friends,

Climate change is an existential threat in progress. As scientists warn, we must act decisively by 2030 if we are to avert disaster — and possibly extinction. It’s encouraging to see more and more people waking up to the urgency of climate action. The ongoing School Strike for Climate is particularly inspiring.

Meanwhile, for more than sixty years, the existential threat of nuclear war continues to hang over our heads. Given the list of horrific near misses, we’ve actually been lucky. Yet the nuclear threat languishes on the back burner of both the general public’s attention span and the national news media’s priority list. That’s why the work being done by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is so important.

Dr. Maureen McCue of Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility

I was honored to have PSR’s Dr. Maureen McCue on this week’s Fallon Forum. (My other guest was Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. Check out our conversation about climate change at the 2:17 minute mark.) Maureen writes:

“Now that we’ve survived St. Patrick’s Day, I again turn my attention to the growing risk of nuclear war. Why growing? Largely because President Trump’s bellicosity is taking us to the brink. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia is a huge step backwards. Add to that his making nice with Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator, his ignoring of the tensions between Pakistan and India, and his promotion of the myth that Iran may soon have nuclear weapons (even as he pulls out of our treaty with that country), and we have an escalation of nuclear tension like none we’ve seen in a long time.

“On top of that, President Trump is committing trillions of dollars to building more nuclear weapons that will only further destabilize the world. And I would be remiss not to mention his lack of attention to any of our real needs — like climate mitigation, environmental clean up, health care, etc.

“With all these actions by a president who seems remarkably disconnected from reality, we should pause to consider the risks to our future. One upcoming effort to work our way back to a saner, safer nuclear policy is the Nuclear Abolition Training scheduled for March 30 in Iowa City and March 31 in Des Moines. The events are open to the public.

“Climate change is being brought on by powerful industries indifferently heating the atmosphere. Nuclear winter could be brought on by an exchange of only 100-200 ‘small’ (Hiroshima-size) bombs. Further, if Earth’s climate continues to unravel, food and water resources will dry up, tensions will heat up, populations will move, conflicts will escalate (as in India-Pakistan, Iran-Israel, etc.) and boom, you have the kindling for setting off a nuclear nightmare. It’s all connected, and needs to be seen as part and parcel of the many myths undergirding both existential risks.”

Check out our conversation with Maureen at the 29:00 minute mark. And if you have questions about the trainings or the work of PSR, Maureen can be reached at info@psriowa.org. Thanks!

Ed

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Cars Matter More Than Kids

Dear Friends,

My birthday is next week, and in the great tradition of Hobbits – who instead of receiving gifts on their birthdays give them – I’m offering four of you a $50 gift card to either Gateway Market and Cafe, Ritual Cafe, HoQ Restaurant or Cinco de Mayo Restaurant. Just leave a comment on my website – HERE (scroll down to the end of the post) — and tell me what you think of my take on Des Moines’ “Cars Matter More Than Kids” day-care policy. I’ll randomly pick four names out of a hat. You can tell me how wrong I am and still win a gift card. Is this a great country, or what?

“So, cars matter more than kids,” you ask? Yes, I’m afraid so. Like soylent green, governments are made of people. And people not only taste bad, they make mistakes.

Like West Des Moines banning air B & B.

Like Aurelia vanquishing a Vietnam Vet’s service dog.

Like Ankeny outlawing chickens. (Note: Ankeny reports an average of 35-45 dog bites per year, yet zero chicken bites.)

This year’s Local Government Run Amuck Award (yes, the year is young, so this could change) goes to the City of Des Moines for limiting in-home day-care providers to six children. Why? Because one south-side curmudgeon complained about parking.

And the city has taken the curmudgeon’s side, possibly because he votes and kids don’t. One city official quoted in The Des Moines Register story claimed the restriction was needed to prevent “unintended consequences for neighbors, like too much parking, too many people on the streets, overcrowding.”

Seriously?? So, are these toddlers driving themselves to day care and hogging all the on-street parking? Or is even the act of dropping off and picking up one’s child deemed to be “too much parking?”

And since when is “people on the streets” a bad thing? A vibrant neighborhood has people on the streets. A dead, dying or decayed neighborhood has empty streets — streets that are less safe, I might add.

And “overcrowding?” In Des Moines? Give me a break . . . although this is likely to change when climate change forces refugees from submerged coastal communities to flee to the American Heartland.

This is a serious problem, folks. If the City Council refuses to budge, the number of in-home child-care slots in Des Moines would drop by around 2,000. That affects not only those kids and their families, but the employers those parents work for, too. It also affects in-home day-care providers like Tonja Boggs (featured in The Register story), whose income would be cut in half.

Finally, if none of that matters to City officials, they should care because this makes Des Moines look dumb and backward. How does the City expect that fancy new hotel it subsidized to achieve optimal occupancy rates if prospective visitors say, “Wow! Why hold our HUGE convention where they value cars more than kids when we can go to Minneapolis – America’s most bike-friendly city?”

Bike-friendly. Kid-friendly. Progressive. High quality of life. These things kinda go together. I thought the City of Des Moines would have figured it out by now.

*******

Check out podcasts from this week’s Fallon Forum:
– Rampage in Kalamazoo
– Cars Matter More Than Kids|
– Chet Culver on Medicaid
– The Kinder-Morgan Pipeline, with Hattie Nestel
– Restaurant Renaissance, with Paul Rottenberg

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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