November 29, 2007
So Emma, our bulldog, was kicked by a cow last weekend. Again.
We’ve had Emma for about 8 years now. I may have had a dog that I loved more sometime in the past, but I’ve never had one that made me laugh so much. She snores like a chainsaw. She still acts like a puppy – barking, demanding to go outside to play, zooming around the family room, grabbing up shoes or anything in her path, and wrestling with the boys. She’s family, really.
But she’s dumb – seriously, very stupid. One of our friends, who has three bulldogs, has watched her and sadly proclaimed, “She’s a disgrace to her breed.” Her vet, who appears regularly on a local morning show to talk about pets, declared her a “mutant” – on the air.
Emma’s had trouble with livestock before. Once, that dog hauled off after a mule with us screaming her name to try to get her to come back. The mule ran away at first. But then, even this mule figured out it was bigger than this bulldog, turned around, and started chasing Emma. That dog turned and ran as hard and fast as we’ve ever seen her. She didn’t beat that mule back to the truck by much.
We’ve also watched her chase a herd of cattle, taking off in whatever direction one cow was going, then turning and chasing another one headed the other way. Of course, she’s found herself underneath a cow or two, and has suffered more than one cow hoof to her bulldog head.
You’d think Emma would know what happens when she starts chasing a farm animal larger than, say, a chicken. But she won’t, or can’t, learn – at least, she doesn’t learn enough to overpower that deep, dark, almost reptilian part of her brain that insists on chasing livestock and doing other things that are bad for her.
So out in the Hill Country this weekend, she got a good look at this cow, and she took off after it before we could stop her. The cow, which may have had to deal with Emma before, was having none of it and popped the dog on the head. For all I know, my dear dog has suffered some brain damage. But, with Emma, who can tell?
All this talk about sweet, dumb Emma, of course, reminds me of climate change. Let me explain:
National Public Radio did a story this week (you can find it and a link to a recording of it here) about the growing awareness in Texas of climate change and the threat it represents. It also talked about the legislature’s general unwillingness to even acknowledge this issue.
The thing is, while some states may look at climate change as something they can’t do much about, Texas shouldn’t be among them. Texas puts more carbon dioxide into the air than any other state. If we were actually a whole other country, we’d rank seventh globally in these emissions.
As you know, carbon dioxide is widely acknowledged to be the single biggest factor causing temperatures to rise around the world. So it seems to me that if we care anything at all about being responsible stewards of our land, air, and water, this is something we should at least be thinking about.
During the session, I authored a bill that would have required that the state simply set up a task force to study the issue and look for strategies that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It was the very definition of a “first step” in figuring out what we, as a state, are going to do about this problem we’re contributing to.
But even this very basic bill couldn’t make it into law – the bill passed the Senate, but died in the House.
Amazingly, a purported “leader” in Texas economic development circles is quoted in the NPR story saying how pleased he was that the legislature did nothing on this issue, even though such inaction could dramatically affect the food we grow, the seafood we catch, the coastal cities we live and work in, and so many other aspects of our economy.
I think the story shows just how out of step we are in confronting this problem. It demonstrates how much work we need to do in educating people and preparing solutions before the next session starts in just over a year.
But most of all, unfortunately, it reminds me of Emma.
It’s time for the state leadership to stop acting like my mutant bulldog. It’s past time for Texas to start learning from its mistakes. And it’s way past time to not just stop making messes, but to start cleaning up the ones that are already here.
I know people have pretty strong differences on a lot of issues. But I hope that, if absolutely nothing else, we can come together and agree that we don’t want to do things that are the equivalent of being kicked in the head by livestock. At some point, there’s a need to stop creating the situations that hurt us.