If we as a people don’t accomplish anything else this century, we should at least get over the nonsensical notion that our environmental health falls under the purview of just one political party. Our environment, our life-support system, affects all of us, regardless of one’s faith, economics, or political leanings. The problem of adapting to and mitigating Climate Change is exacerbated by the delusion that only environmentalists care about this issue. I belabor the obvious because of this story and many like it have appeared recently after President Obama mentioned Climate Change in his Second Inaugural Address:
Environmentalists hail Obama climate change focus WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental groups hailed President Barack Obama’s warning Monday about climate change, but said the president’s words will soon be tested as he decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Obama pledged in his inaugural speech to respond to what he called the threat of climate change, saying, ‘‘Failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.’’ By singling out climate change, Obama indicated a willingness to take on an issue that he acknowledges was often overlooked during his first term. He also was setting up a likely confrontation with congressional Republicans who have opposed legislative efforts to curb global warming. (January 22, 2013) Boston Globe
The world‘s most important leader proclaiming to lead on the most important problem of Climate Change is critical and welcome. Though, it is very late in coming. A new report by GreenPeace, Point of No Return | The massive climate threats we must avoid, explains in detail how 14 major fossil fuel projects around the world will put us on a path of 6°C warming if allowed to continue. You cannot read this report without feeling some sense of urgency, as this report (that admittedly, many deniers will scorn) doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Thousands of climate reports from all over the world, including many Climate Change studies that pertain to our Rochester, NY region are pointing to a dreadful scenario by 2030.
Here in Rochester, on Wednesday February 13, 2013, 7PM at the Little Theatre, the film Comfort Zone will be shown as part of the Greentopia Film Festival. This film brings together the work and expertise of many local people to get the word out on Climate Change in our area. It says: “What does climate change mean in Rochester where it may not seem like an obvious threat? While Upstate New York is not concerned with rising sea levels and many wish its climate was a little warmer, the search for answers to how our region is affected by this global phenomenon and what we can do about it offers no easy answers.”
Also, in Rochester City Newspaper, Cornell University’s Dr. Wolfe’s work on Climate Change was highlighted in “Taking stock of the changing climate.” Dr. Wolfe was one of the lead authors in the Northeast section of the Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review, which you can comment on until 5pm ET on April 12th, 2013. Find out more about Dr. Wolfe’s work at Cornell Climate Change and watch the video on his work. BTW: Dr. Wolfe is featured in Comfort Zone.
While the big sea change goes on in the US on Climate Change attitudes, there are a still lot of holdouts. Seriously rich and powerful holdouts:
53 senators urge approval of Keystone XL pipeline WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half the Senate on Wednesday urged quick approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ramping up pressure on President Barack Obama to move ahead with the project just days after he promised in his inaugural address to respond vigorously to the threat of climate change. A letter signed by 53 senators said Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's approval of a revised route through his state puts the long-delayed project squarely in the president's hands. "We urge you to choose jobs, economic development and American energy security," the letter said, adding that the pipeline "has gone through the most exhaustive environmental scrutiny of any pipeline" in U.S. history. The $7 billion project would carry oil from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. (January 23, 2013) San Francisco Chronicle
Just when you think you’re making progress, a relatively small but powerful few want to wreck the planet for the rest of us. The Keystone XL oil pipeline is one of those 14 projects in Point of No Return that demonstrates how important it is that President Obama not only mentions ‘Climate Change’ (ending Climate Silence) but actually stands up against the fossil fuel industry.
We have no delusions about how difficult it will be for President Obama to stand up against the powerful political forces, funded by the fossil fuel industry, who don’t want their golden goose cooked. Even if Obama stops this dirty pipeline, it won’t be enough. The fossil fuel industry will get annoyed. Their supporters in our government will get annoyed and plow billions to fight back any efforts to solve this world-wide calamity. One of the most persistent problems will be that the public will probably become annoyed at the change required to shift gears and move to renewable energy. The extreme end of the GOP (who have a lot of money in our elections) will say there’s not even a problem, that Climate Change is a hoax, and the public is suffering for nothing. So, everything Obama accomplishes might be undone by installing a political party that panders to the public’s will not to believe. (There will be the rest of the world watching of course, but we in the U.S. tend not to consider their opinion unless they can bring some kind of economic leverage to bear.) If the public doesn’t get the long-term scope of the Climate Change crisis and accept the struggle ahead, we squander many years in hopeless political squabbles.
Tragically a major political party in our country feels beleaguered by Obama’s statement:
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms. Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama
Obama’s validation of this crisis clashes with the very message that the extreme end of the Republican Party has been desperately trying to peddle. But addressing climate should not be a political issue at all. It is not the public’s fault that such a small powerful group has chosen such an absurd position, a position that hardens the more tenuous it becomes. Political fighting, and really any fighting at all, over addressing climate change is only going to slow down our collective efforts to address it. Time is critical. Negotiating on this issue is not possible, Nature doesn’t make deals. You either get greenhouse gases down or you warm up our atmosphere even more.
Ultimately, taking a position against addressing Climate Change is absurd, absurd in the way that taking a dislike to breathing oxygen is absurd. It is morally wrong for a political party to our hamper collective attempts to address Climate Change in the way it was morally reprehensible for a political party decades ago to deny people of color equality before the law. Climate Change is upon us, and we don’t have the luxury of bickering over this anymore. Precious time has been lost, and as a result, we’ll have to adapt to a certain amount of warming regardless of what we do. (Unless, of course, we can invent a great big machine that will suck two and a half centuries of anthropogenic carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere. Don’t count on it.)
Obama has now taken charge on Climate Change and many of us will back him up: Join the #ForwardOnClimate Rally On 2/17! Let Rev.Yearwood have the last word: Forward on Climate Rally Feb. 17th! If you live in or around Rochester, NY Get on the Bus to Washington, DC.