Navy Goes Green but Public Doesn’t Get Global Warming

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

We’re tootling down the 15 Freeway to Coronado, my husband and I, and I’m subjecting him once again to public radio. It goes something like this:

A reporter announces that President Obama has declared the H1N1 influenza outbreak a national emergency, which should improve treatment and prevention of the flu.

Me: Finally!

He: Hmmm.

Me: I wrote about that months ago — caught flak for being a Biden.

He: Hmmm?

Me: For over-reacting. Apparently, the VP and I were fear mongering — in contrast to stating the obvious, which the president has now done.

He: Hmmm.

Then there’s a report on a Saudi female journalist who was sentenced to 60 lashes for her involvement in a Lebanese TV show, “Bold Red Line.” The show featured men discussing their sex lives, a taboo in Saudi Arabia. One of the men was sentenced to five years and 1,000 lashes; two others received two years and 300 lashes each.

Me: Saudi Arabia, now there’s a great ally for the United States, because we abhor cruel and unusual punishment — except when we don’t like the culprit.

He: Hmmm.

Me: Or when the culprit’s Muslim.

He: Hmmm.

Me: Or African-American.

He: Hmmm.

Me: This is nuts!

He: Hmmm!

We listen to a story about the search for Everett Ruess, a beloved 20-year-old poet wanderer who disappeared in 1934. Earlier this year, his remains were erroneously reported as having been discovered — based on inaccurate DNA testing.

Me: Bad DNA testing, jeez! That’ll show up on CSI.

He: Hmmm.

Me: And in plenty of appeals courts. Yet another hit on the taxpayers.

He: Hmmm.

GlobalWarmingChartAs we approach our destination, we listen to one last story. It’s about the International Day of Climate Action events that are occurring around the world this weekend. They are intended to remind folks about climate change and the need to work together to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm).

According to the story, though, public interest in climate change is shrinking a lot faster than the carbon dioxide ppm. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found a “very sharp drop” since April 2008 in the percentage of Americans who believe there is “solid evidence the world is warming.”

Me: No evidence? What additional evidence does the public need? How many more polar bears have to starve to death for lack of habitat before they get it? How many more times do scientists have to report increasing temperatures and shrinking glaciers? Can’t they understand it doesn’t have to happen in their backyards to make it real?

He: Hmmm.

Me: Are you listening to me?

He: Turn right on Orange and left on First. Then show your ID at the sentry gate.

USSMakinIslandtallshotWe're there, and I see the telltale double take when the Navy sentries notice the “Don’t Be Gaycist” sticker on my windshield. Then we pull into a parking lot at Naval Air Station North Island, for the commissioning of the USS Makin Island LHD 8, the Navy’s newest amphibious assault ship.

A few thousand of us make our way to the shuttles or stumble over crane tracks, and find our color-coded seating sections. Along the way, we stop to shake hands with all the uniforms my husband knows, but we make it to our seats without my doing anything else overtly liberal.

But then I flip through the program. The cover image appears to be a Photoshopped model ship imposed on a crested sea stock photo. Even the military is cutting costs, which is both reassuring and disconcerting. The ship’s motto, “Gung Ho,” is emblazoned across the image — working together, it means. Inside, color photographs of senior military and government leadership smile at us formidably, starting with the Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama.

Me: Look, Honey. They’re all men. President Obama’s a man. And then there’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a man. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, another man. Naval Operations Chief Admiral Gary Roughead, a man. General James Conway, Commandant of the Marines Corps, definitely a man. Commander, Fleet Forces Command Admiral John Harvey Jr., a man. Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral Robert Willard, a man. And look, keep turning the pages and it’s man, man, man, man, man, man, idiot actor man — our governor — man, man, man. Where are the women in senior leadership?

He: Hmmm?

Me: The women, where are the women?

He: Hmmm.

USSMalkinIslandCommission2The ceremony starts, saving him, and the speechifying begins, although most of the folks keep it thoughtfully short. Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) offers a quickie, touting the jobs the newly commissioned ship has brought to San Diego and enthusiastically welcoming the Navy’s first green ship, with it’s way-cool hybrid electric-drive propulsion system.

Me: The Navy invested $2.5 billion in a hybrid amphibious assault ship? That’s pretty damn Gung Ho! What more evidence of global warning could the public possibly need?

He: Hmmm?

The audio system fails, so the band kicks in, to calm the restless natives. And, at last, the flag is raised aboard the ship.

Me: Good marching band, Honey.

He: Yes, that’s the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps. They’re out of D.C., called The Commandant’s Own. There’s none better.

Me: Hmmm.

Love, K-B

©2009 Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Survey results chart courtesy of Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

USS Makin Island photos by Kit-Bacon Gressitt.