Monday, January 09, 2012

Intolerable acts of denial, the 2012 Presidential race and Climate Change


Doesn’t it seem odd to you that most of the scientists and most of the countries on this planet understand Climate Change, while the US media and the US presidential elections almost completely ignore it? In this country, the media makes billions of dollars detailing the horse race, how low the President is in the polls, how much money a candidate has in their coffers, and questioning candidates on the latest slap from their opponents, yet we hear nothing on the most important issue of this century. We seem hell-bent on electing a President of the United States without even discussing Climate Change at all. What’s the point of having an election if you can’t talk about important things?

That’s not only very odd, but tragic. A US president is going to have to address this issue because it involves every aspect of being a president: wars, infrastructure, regulations, public lending, public health, and you-name-it. And Climate Change isn’t going to go away because a candidate’s handlers are uncomfortable with the issue as it threatens funding from large corporations like the fossil fuel industry.

Somehow, we here in the US have got to get over Climate Change denial and get going on grappling with it. Climate Change isn’t just an ordinary issue that you tack on to a laundry list of endless worries that end up paralyzing you into inaction. It has to be adapted to and reversed—or we cook. It is the one issue upon which all other issues in our future will revolve. It is caused by humans putting more greenhouse gases (GHG) into our atmosphere and it is steadily increasing:

2010 Carbon Dioxide Output Shows Biggest Jump Ever - “Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery. Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.”

The Republican race for president is winding up, and the US public still doesn’t have a clue as to what the candidates will do about the next UN Climate Change talks, or how much public funds will be allocated to buttress our water, wastewater, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructures as extreme weather threatens them. There’s no plan among the candidates to deal with Climate Change. In fact, the Republican candidates are falling all over themselves to appease their base and ignore the elephant in the room.

Still Searching for Republicans With Climate Concerns - The Climate Desk, a collaborative journalism project of Mother Jones and several other publications, has produced a video searching in vain for a Republican presidential candidate willing to make any science-based statements on climate. (January 5, 2010)

So, how does that work? Though denial plays well in the bizarre world of US politics, how does dismissing Climate Change work with the laws of physics and the growing concerns of the other nations around the world? (Australia just implemented a carbon tax.) At what point will the next president get tired of swatting every fly, that is, addressing every extreme weather event separately, until he or she finally connects the dots and calls for a comprehensive Climate Change action plan and summons up the courage to speak about it to the public? What will the mood of the American people be when they awaken from their slumber on Climate Change and start looking for those who have been lying about what most scientists and other countries have known for quite awhile now. Will there be accountability?

If we cannot talk about Climate Change in our politics, how can we choose a candidate who will address it? How do you have a conversation when one side won’t talk? How do we measure our chances of survival if a president won’t even mention it in his State of the Union address—as President Obama failed to do last year? How do we talk about economics and trade with other nations who are trying to reduce their GHG? Are we just going to get angry when other nations implement changes and these measures start to tread on our inalienable rights to warm the planet?

Carbon Emission Fees for Flights Upheld “PARIS — The European Union’s highest court on Wednesday endorsed the bloc’s plan to begin charging the world’s biggest airlines for their greenhouse gas emissions starting Jan. 1. The move sets the stage for a potentially costly trade war with the United States, China and other countries. A group of United States airlines had argued that forcing them to participate in the potentially costly emissions-trading system infringed on national sovereignty and conflicted with existing international aviation treaties.” (December 21, 2011) The New York Times

Shouldn’t the American public demand that their next president define his or her position on how they will address Climate Change? Sure it’s uncomfortable. There is no denying that understanding Climate Change implies a lot of inconvenient actions our nation must take—like moving to a carbon-free economy instead of one that continues to prey on our future. Heads will roll; there will be winners and losers, and if we do nothing, we’ll cook.

Many folks just don’t understand Climate Change, or don’t want to hear about it, but that isn’t going to stop the planet warming up. There are things we the people can do to start a national conversation and at least put this issue on the one platform where Americans speak about crucial matters–our presidential elections:

  • We could use our social media programs to encourage that media outlets address all our concerns about Climate Change in our region.
  • We could respond to the constant horserace by pivoting and challenging our local media to question our politicians on Climate Change.
  • We could write letters to the editors of our local media and ask why they are not questioning our presidential candidates on what they would do to help us adapt and reverse Climate Change.
  • When political candidates come for a visit, we can stand up and speak out for the US to take responsibility on Climate Change as Durban Climate Hero Abigail Borah did: Durban Climate Hero Abigail Borah: 'I Am Speaking On Behalf Of The USA Because My Negotiators Cannot' | ThinkProgress
  • We could let our friends and family know that we are concerned about how politics as usual will jeopardize our future.
  • We can visit our community leaders and let them know that we understand Climate Change and that we want to know what measures are being taken in our area to address it.
  • We should contact the environmental groups we belong to and demand that they pressure the media to challenge the candidates on Climate Change. Some already do, like the League of Conservation Voters.

US mainstream media, backed by corporations who are not particularly fond of their puppets challenging the presidential candidates on Climate Change, must be replaced by a media that acts on our behalf, not the corporations. The present state of affairs, where the most powerful country in the world refuses to acknowledge the most important issue in the world, is intolerable. This craven idiocy cannot go on:

Climate coverage down again in 2011 — The Daily Climate Climate change dropped even further from the world's headlines and newscasts last year. Weird weather, Australia's carbon tax and Solyndra fracas weren't enough to stem a decline that started in 2009. Media coverage of climate change continued to tumble in 2011, declining roughly 20 percent from 2010's levels and nearly 42 percent from 2009's peak, according to analysis of's archive of global media. (January 3, 2011)

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