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Kick the Can

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Anybody out there remember “kick the can” or “hide and go seek”? How about penny loafers and jeans without holes in the knees? Or playing football with boys in the neighborhood because there weren’t enough guys to make 2 teams without girls? We climbed trees and roller skated up and down the hills in Fort Worth. That was my neighborhood in the early 1950s.

Dollars to doughnuts folks in Bandera back then remember a lot of that too. Plus playing in the river. Fishing. Riding bikes and horses all over the place, raising cows and other farm animals. I remember laughing and running and rolling in the grass, looking for the next tree I could climb. It was summertime. We were out of school. We played outdoors all day long. Even on Sunday after church.

It’s gone now. And it may never come back. All gone, stolen from our grandchildren and their grandchildren in a calculated, chilling theft designed to make money no matter what.

As I got older I remember hearing scary stuff. Venice in Italy and New York City would be under water along with other cities on the East and West coasts. Hurricanes would get stronger. Tornados too. Tornado Alley would shift from plains in the Midwest. And it did. Now, some call it Dixie Alley. It regularly threatens cities and populations in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Summertime brings wildfires all over the West. Cities are flooding on the East Coast. Just last week Sioux Falls, South Dakota had winds of 80 miles an hour in town as a storm blew through. In Alaska, daytime temperatures in July can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In Kansas 2,000 cows died from the heat two weeks ago. It’s too hot for children to play outside in many states without risking heat stroke.

Why weren’t we warned?

We were. In 1959 in a symposium in New York City at Columbia University, 300 oil and gas executives were told what carbon emissions would do to the planet. They not only ignored the warnings from a top nuclear scientist, they spent millions over the years to debunk the scientific findings that clearly showed what was happening.

Do we have evidence?

You bet. Copies of the TV ads the oil and gas industry aired in America for more than 40 years show how calculated it was in undermining the science that clearly showed what was happening and how it was getting worse. Maybe you remember some.

Here’s one from 1991: “Who told you the earth was warming? Chicken Little?” Google this headline to read about it and some of the others: “The forgotten oil and gas ads that told us climate change was nothing.” This Guardian newspaper article lays bare the strategy the oil and gas industry used, like the tobacco industry, to cover up the truth. There are dissenters. I don’t believe them.

Jodie Sinclair is an award-winning writer who holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and resides in Bandera, Texas.