I’ve had a lot to say recently about the economic snake oil being poured in the House of Representatives. I’ve been talking about it because it’s so current. Mishandling the economy has become a Republican trademark since the Great Depression, and they’re so impressed by their foolishness that they keep repeating the same time-tested mistakes. I’ve been talking about it because it is going to do so much harm. But the truth is, it is not what I think is the most important issue facing us.
Few of us are in faiths that believe in suicide, let alone mass suicide or murder-suicide. But that is the inevitable result of global warming. And all the economic flim-flam intended to protect a few Republican beneficiaries is in the way of doing anything about it.
The climate is behaving like a very angry God. Submerging coastlines are destroying the homes and livelihoods of people all over the globe. The changing acidity of the oceans is destroying the many ways that the oceans give us life. The warmer air is creating droughts over enormous areas that will result in the starvation of millions, if not billions. The warmer air magnifies the floods, storms, hurricanes and tornadoes that are already turning increasing numbers of Americans into refugees. It will also mean the spread of tropical diseases, spiders, snakes and other hazards.
In one respect the changing climate will probably favor the northeast – projections are that we will have enough rainfall. But New York has more than a thousand miles of coastline, some of our most valuable land. Yes I was surprised to learn that but the Hudson is tidal and both sides are coastal, as are the two sides of Long Island. Add other tributaries, Lake Erie and Ontario and New York’s exposure is enormous. Rising seas threaten our coast. Add the coastline of New England and you can see how gargantuan the problems will be even just in the northeast.
These problems are also behind some of the wars around the world, wars that are producing failed states that beckon to al Qaeda and others who are only too happy to misdirect their anger and frustration at the U.S.
There are people who deny the effects of climate change just as there are people who deny the Holocaust. There are always people who deny the obvious.
Obama came in to office with a set of programs designed to deal with changing climate. Dealing with changing climate requires getting off of fuels that work by burning and producing carbon, and investing in wind, solar and conservation methods and technology. It means investing in conservation of water and desalinization of ocean water. It means improving the ways we fish so that we don’t end up killing ourselves with mercury and other heavy metals. Those investments would also help to deal with the immediate economic problem.
This is a struggle, a War, of self-preservation, and congressional Republicans are blocking us from fielding an army of climate and conservation workers because they want payoffs to their rich friends. Shame on them. Shame on those who are so determined to get a few extra bucks that they are willing to block American efforts at self-preservation.
— This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, July 19, 2011.