Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marching backwards with eyes closed

There has been so much going on in recent days that it's hard to decide just what to post. First of all, the tragedy in AZ is finally being rotated out of the press, though there are still people talking about it, particularly in talk radio. The GOP is now taking credit for the recent turnaround in the economy, despite the fact that they've done nothing to help. In fact, the recent attack on HCR has kept Congress from doing anything even remotely useful in quite a while. Then, there is the fact that Obama's approval ratings are starting to turn around, indicating that either people are starting to notice that he's not a screw-up, or people are more susceptible to media coverage and analysis than I feared.

With all the stuff going on, all the spin in the media, and the absence of substance in our news and information outlets, it perhaps is not so surprising that people believe the things that they do. What really gets to me is how innovation, invention, and new ideas are often held hostage, as if they were political pawns, and are kept from being public knowledge by powerful lobbies in Washington and the newsroom.

There are two great examples of this that come to mind. One is a book that was first published back in the 70's called Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. This book presents an argument for effectively eliminating world hunger in approximately one year. World hunger has been a humanitarian issue for decades, and yet this book is relatively unknown to most outside the activist circles. In fact, most people have never heard of this theory, which supposed altering our beef production methods to allow more room to grow grain for human consumption. Why is it that this theory isn't well known? The only logical assumption is that those who own beef production have lobbied to keep it out of the public arena, have shouted down the theory with disinformation, and have essentially blocked it's move into the mainstream.

The second example is a more recent one. An American company has recently received a patent for a bacteria that absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere similar to trees, then turns it into fuel that can be used in modern engines. This is a tremendous breakthrough for several reasons. First of all, it allows us to have a renewable source of fuel to power our infrastructure. Secondly, and most importantly, it is practically carbon-neutral, because the bacteria absorbs the CO2 from the air, turns it to fuel, which is then burned, releasing the CO2 back into the air where it would once again be absorbed. It's an amazing cycle that is all too similar to other cycles we see in nature. And yet, there is no word in the media about this breakthrough, no discussion of integrating this new technology into our current infrastructure, and no public discussion of the ramifications of this new method for getting fuel. Oh, and one more thing: the cost of this new fuel source would be approximately 1/3 the cost of fuel we use now, so gas prices would drop by and equal amount if we were to implement it. You could argue that this is such a recent breakthrough that it hasn't hit our media yet, but the link above is to a news group that is not even in the U.S., and other news stories have hit the media in a matter of moments, as is the case with a major catastrophe. The only logical argument, once again, is that corporate oil interests have stepped in to block the story in the news room, since such technology would essentially render them obsolete. Add to the fact that this is an American company that has figured this stuff out, and you can even bet that the conservative "Buy America" crowd will jump on board. You can't defend foreign oil with them.

These are just a few examples, but the overall argument is that we as a people are woefully susceptible to the blinders of censorship, even when it doesn't come from the government. Censorship is being used by corporations, by the privately owned superpowers, to keep us from seeing a better alternative to what they can sell. We need to be able to have all the facts, all the information, all the technology and innovative practices available to make our lives here sustainable and neutral.

No comments: