It is remarkable how often, after the fact, everybody knows what should have been done to avoid the latest national disaster.

You have to wonder if they really thought about the matter at all beforehand.

Consider how many Americans following the Boston Marathon bombing thought Chechens were from Czechoslovakia.

Petr Gandalovič, Ambassador to the United States from the Czech Republic, had to inform the “social media” that “the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.”

What we don’t know, we all need to know so that we can make informed policy decisions.

To make matters worse, our modern political “dialogue” consists principally of public disinformation focused on banal distractions and not what really matters.

We are a culture that poses with equanimity but that incites its citizens against immigrants, racial minorities, welfare mothers, feminists, gays and lesbians.

In the shadow of Earth Day, I’d like to underscore one of those issues that prompts a sadly anorexic dialogue about how we can safely breathe the air and drink the water.

The ostrich view oft heard is that, “the earth will right itself no matter what we do,” when everything we’ve learned since the industrial revolution has shown the outcome to be otherwise.

Some local fossil fool fanatic planted an over-sized wooden political poster at the intersection of local route 7 and the Berlin Turnpike in 2008 saying, “Drill, Baby, Drill!”

What if someone put an oil rig or coal mine on his property — like we find in West Virginia — and conducted a follow-up interview, would he have a different opinion? Perhaps not.

Among the most frequent political deceptions is how politicians tell us we should act for our children – no matter the issue.


Then what should we do in response to that California study that found a mom’s exposure to traffic-related air pollution could prompt autism in her newborn? Columbia University found that babies in the womb, with prenatal exposure to air pollutants, suffered more from anxiety, depression, and attention span challenges. In China, where the children are wearing masks to insulate them from the polluted fog, they found prenatal exposure to high levels of air pollutants prompted children born with smaller heads, slower growth patterns, and poor cognitive development.

What are we going to do for these unborn children?

Nor can we ignore that we have the challenge of those who don’t know the difference between a Czech and a Chechen.

A large segment of our population has embraced a cartoonish cosmogony of how our planet and life began. They refuse to accept what a basic High School Chemistry class teaches about the greenhouse effect. We are going to have to work around this ignorance.

In our County, Loudoun, we have adults who tell their children to clean their rooms but they won’t clean our streams.

In our State, Virginia, our General Assembly defers to mining and drilling, almost without exception, and discourages alternative renewable energy sources even though we have these powerful winds up and down our Atlantic coast that we could harness

In our nation, we are sharply divided over the approval of Trans Canada’s proposed 875-mile 3-foot diameter Keystone XL pipeline, that would transport 830,000 barrels of crude tar sands oil a day from Canada’s strip mined Alberta boreal forest into our nation.

This dirty oil doesn’t spurt out of some old-fashioned well rig. You’ve got to excavate two tons of sand to get one barrel of bitumen, called “junk energy.” Bitumen is called “junk” because it produces less than a quarter of the energy you get from conventional oil, and releases 450% of the climate-changing carbon emissions of crude oil.

The proposed pipeline would carry this tar oil across the high plains states, across 250,000 ranches and farms, and past 1,500 waterways, from the Yellowstone River in Montana to the gulf where the refineries are.

As for those promised “new” jobs, forget about it; there are only about 35 permanent local jobs and 390 temporary jobs for Americans (the bulk of the temp jobs will go to skilled Canadian workers).

This pipeline may put at risk the million jobs we now have from those ranches, farms and waterways. Last month, 200,000 gallons of tar sands crude “leaked” from a pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, and devastated that community. This happens all the time. In the last twenty years, there were 5,611 pipeline failures releasing 100 million gallons of oil. If this new pipeline breaks, it can leak into waterways, even into the vital underground Ogallala aquifer that provides water to farmers and ranchers, water necessary to raise livestock and grow crops.

Forget about oil independence; once this dirty tar oil is refined in the gulf, it’s going to the highest bidder off shore.

We cannot afford to have our forehead slapping epiphany after we’ve gotten this one wrong.

No big signs will tell us we are about to reach the tipping point of this environmental disaster.

We have to get smart now or risk our own survival and, oh yes, the survival of our children.