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A voice of sanity silenced …

February 19th, 2010 · No Comments

A (sometimes too) calm of voice of sanity has been silenced before his time. Martin Bosworth has passed away, a victim in the nation’s health care wars, the perfect patient for the health care system: he worked mightedly to keep himself healthy and away from doctors’ offices, a strategy that worked well when he was covered by insurance that failed when he took a risk with a new job in going without insurance. From Martin Bosworth’s Facebook Memorium page:

Veronica Martin always demonstrated this never ending positivity. I think this is what I liked best about him. He was always upbeat- and oftentimes it seemed that nothing could bring him down.

David Martin reminded me of Guthrie, Springsteen, and Dylan. A man who could tell you his story in such a way that you could not deny how it applied to you. It didn’t matter if he was telling you about a cause he felt strongly about or what he had for breakfast, if he saw your face every day or you just read his words on a… page, if you even agreed with him or not – There was no denying that his story WAS your story. I feel honored to have been able to have been part of his story, as well as have had him as part of mine.

And, so on …

What struck me about Martin, repeatedly, was his ability to take such a wide range of issues and communicate them with a clarity and structure that laid the issues out bluntly for any with a mind open enough to listen. While he did so on a plethora of issues, at times his clarity of thought and writing related to energy and climate issues simply stood out. There is a reason that I reached out to cross-post one of his pieces here at GESN. In Change in the Weather, Martin tackled ClimateGate with the perspective of a non-expert judging what logic and sensible thinking leads to. And, he concluded:

Even if global warming isn’t our fault, it is our responsibility. The United States alone produces 220 to 230 million tons of garbage a year — 4.6 pounds per person. Most of this is not recycled, but simply dumped or buried in landfills, where it contaminates groundwater and produces health hazards for anyone living nearby. This is unquestionably our responsibility. We made this mess, and we must clean it up. And when it comes to global warming, the question must be asked, “Who is going to handle it?” Who else can address the issue of sea levels rising as the polar ice caps melt? Who else can come up with solutions to entire cultures being destroyed due to rapid climate change? The answer is the same. It’s up to us. We try to deny the existence of human-caused global warming so as to deny our part in destroying the planet — a concept so vast it renders people utterly helpless. But now’s not the time to be helpless, or to be swayed by naysayers who refuse to accept the truth right in front of their eyes. It’s a time to be bold, brave, and visionary, and step forward to accept our responsibility to clean up the planet and not let Nature suffer for our mistakes. If that’s not being personally responsible, what is?

As Lou Grinzo commented

Extremely well said, Martin.

I agree completely (which is something I normally make a point not to do with anyone, just on principle), and I also want to thank you not only for writing the piece that I was planning for tomorrow morning, but doing such an excellent job.

For another example, let us take The Oil Crisis is (Still) Not Like a Toothache.

there’s this sudden faux-grassroots movement on the right to open up all of our wildlife reserves and our shores for oil drilling, under the pretense that it’ll reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower prices at the pump. It’s even got a catchy, easily memorable slogan: “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less.” And it’s all the rage in East Wingnuttia.

Too bad that it’s completely wrong and as far from the truth as one can get while still being in the same space/time continuum.

The “Drill now” slogan is a perfect example of how the conservative movement works. You get a plan that’s easily boiled down into a series of repeatable talking points. You spread it everywhere, using your access to major media outlets to your advantage, and relying on a corps of loyal supporters to coalesce larger political movements around it. Next thing you know, despite the efforts of some of the best and most well-informed environmentalists and energy activists out there to remind us that offshore and ANWR drilling is a fool’s errand at best, public opinion is beginning to shift in favor of “drill, drill, drill.”

While that is, perhaps, an incredibly pessimistic statement about what was going on in mid-2008, Martin didn’t end with pessimism, but had a strong streak of optimism that permeated so much of what he did. Thus, the post moved on:

Americans are smarter than we are often given credit for, and many of us do realize that destroying precious environmental resources and wildlife reserves to allow more domestic drilling is a psychological panacea–a placebo to make us feel like “something is being done.” The trick is to get the word out and keep it going across the country, so that everyone understands clearly…we need longer-term solutions and a fundamental reorientation of how our country works on every level if we’re going to preserve our economy and improve–not preserve, but improve–our way of life. Drilling is fine for a cavity, but what we need to fix our woeful state is a lot bigger than what a drillbit can offer.

Martin strove to “get the word out”, to inform his fellow citizens and arm them with truth so that they would have the ammunition to show that “Americans are smarter” than right-wing propagandists hope. Amid a time of worsening media distortions and misperceptions about our challenges/opportunities/paths forwards, the quality and strength of Martin Bosworth’s intellect, character, and wisdom will be missed.

PS: We corresponded infrequently but, rare in these days, every single email Martin sent directly to me was more than worth opening …

Some other voices on Martin Bosworth:

Consumer Affairs obituary of Martin Bosworth

Jason Rosenbaum, In memory of Martin Bosworth

Tim Karr, In memory of Martin

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Tags: climate delayers · climate legislation · Energy · Global Warming · global warming deniers