“What’s your dog’s name?”
The Chihuahua lapped up beer from a bowl on the bar. Beer is not good for dogs, but the dog’s owner looked as testy as his pet. I was disinclined to criticize. Also, the bar was a few doors down from a place into which I recently had moved. I was a stranger to the regulars there. I always would be, as it turned out, but that is beside the point.
“His name’s Tojo,” the man, who looked to be in his late 60s, replied.
“Are you a veteran of World War II?”
“Yeah. I was in the Navy. I was a master plumber.”
I had to ask the next question. “Did you see a lot of action?” The Chihuahua looked up at me and growled.
“I built submarines.”
The guy was serious. I mean—plumbing on a submarine is very serious. If a valve does not function properly, the submarine might continue to dive. With one eye on the dog, I asked something mundane, like, “How was that experience?”
“It was okay. I remember the first boat”—submarines are called “boats” by those in the trade—“on which I was foreman. The skipper was about to take her out on her first test run. He asked me is she was ready. I said yeah. He said great, hop on board, let’s get underway.” He paused to pour some more Old Style into Tojo’s bowl. The dog seemed mollified and lapped up more krausened product.
“They’d never told me I had to ride on a boat after I’d built her. Don’t get me wrong—I’d done my best on that boat. But after that test run, every boat I built I knew my life was on the line. The skipper of each one made sure I was out there on those runs.”
Much has been said about human-caused global climate change. Ninety-seven percent of scientists in fields related to climate say people have trashed Earth to such an extent the climate has warmed. People are alarmed at what they perceive as an increase in numbers of earthquakes in areas in which fracking occurs.
Other people contest these notions. They do not seem to contest how much crap humans pump into the air or dump into rivers and oceans. The doubters of harm simply (1) confess they are not scientists and (2) say there is no proof of harm.
If there is no harm from these activities, we should employ a test derived from my conversation with the owner of Tojo, the beer-drinking Chihuahua.
The owners of such facilities as belch out fumes from coal should live in a direction that is generally downwind from the plant or whatever source of the smoke. Gated communities for the wealthy should be built within a five-block radius of nuclear power plants, and the major shareholders of the particular company that owns and operates the plant encouraged—hey! With tax incentives! How about that?—to reside in the gated communities. If a corporate entity dumps into rivers materials the corporate spokes people say are harmless, let the major shareholders live downstream.
There always is the argument that the rich—and the people who are the major shareholders either are the rich or other corporate entities—would not live in areas where such activities occur. After all, the lower-middle-class or poor reside in coal country, where mountain tops are leveled and left to fester on the landscape. Perhaps there is an exception. Maybe one or two billionaires maintain a weekend home in those parts. That is the point, however. If the quality of life is impaired by the activities, we should curtail or stop those activities. If people’s health or safety are in danger from coal, we should pursue solar or wind energy—and employ a lot of people.
If people deny harms from these activities, let them live near the sources of those activities. If those people’s asses—and not simply the asses of the lower-middle-class and the poor—are on the line, the deniers might be so adamant in denial.
I finished my beer that day in Berwyn, and left. Tojo could be a mean drunk, I later heard.