From the Left



Is 'Icarus' the Solution to Climate Change?

Jim Hightower on

Although the sun is an essential life force, we need to protect ourselves from its relentless glare.

Sunglasses? Check. Beach umbrella? Check. Tinted car windows? Check. A huge, multitrillion-dollar parasol floating in outer space to reduce global warming? Uh ... huh?

Ready or not, here come the corporate hucksters and techno-fantasists with a dazzling scheme to prevent climate change without requiring any actual change in human behavior. Amazing! It's easy, they exclaim: Simply put a massive SpaceBrella between us and El Sol, and -- voila! -- it will block enough of those bad ol' sunrays to lower the planet's temp enough for us to keep trucking.

This is indeed simple -- as in "simpleton." It reminds me of the 1950s atomic bomb drills we had in elementary school, when we tykes were instructed to protect ourselves by crouching under our desks.

Today's SpaceBrella hawkers offer the same sort of approach: Since political and corporate powers aren't doing near enough to prevent cataclysmic climate disaster, they cheerfully say we can hide under their phantasmagoric space shield. That way, we won't have to bother Big Oil, Big Coal and other money powers with our demands to convert from an exploitative fossil-fuel economy to climate-friendly fuels and sustainable systems.

It's embarrassing that this clique of profiteers, politicians and so-called scientists should be so frivolous as to propose that humanity dodge reality and fritter away our future on such a gimmick. The real solution is right here on Earth, basically requiring that we STOP THE STUPIDITY!

These techno-money schemes are like Icarus, the mythological Greek character who created wings of wax and feathers so he could fly -- but he flew too close to the sun, and his wings melted, so he plunged to his death in the sea.



In 1863, humorist Artemus Ward wrote a satire on hucksterism, making up a tale of Abe Lincoln being asked to endorse a piece of quackery about spiritualism. Not wanting to offend, the Lincoln character slyly offers non-committal praise: "Well for people who like that kind of thing, I think that is just about the kind of thing they'd like."

But sometimes a product really needs no hype -- like this new one I've learned about that's damn-near magical! It's a non-polluting, affordable, natural, job-creating alternative to plastic stuff. No, seriously -- come back here -- this is real!

The only fib in my pitch is the word "new." Actually, this product is ancient. It's cork, used for thousands of years by Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and others to make shoes, fishing gear, etc. But now, it's a sustainable, regenerative material that all sorts of enterprising outfits are using for home construction, clothing, electric cars, spacecraft ... and more.

Maybe, like me, you've pulled many a wine cork without thinking where does this thing come from? Trees! In particular, the bark of evergreen, Mediterranean cork tress that live for some 200 years. But how sad to cut them down for wine stoppers! No, no -- the bark is carefully harvested by skilled workers; then it grows back over about nine years and can be harvested again and again, creating steady income for small farms. The tree is climate-friendly, drought-tolerant and fire-resistant, and the cork itself is renewable, reusable and biodegradable. Even cork dust is used to produce energy.

Before we let corporate profiteers turn Earth (and us) into a throwaway plastic dump, let's recognize that nature is the greatest technologist ever. So maybe cooperating with her can be more beneficial than constantly trying to overpower and trash her.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at


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