Year 3, Month 10, Day 28: Screw It, Let’s Play In Four

The Glens Falls (NY) Post-Star runs Eugene Robinson’s column, “Silence over climate change is deafening”:

WASHINGTON — Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change.

President Obama understands and accepts the scientific consensus the burning of fossil fuels is trapping heat in the atmosphere, with potentially catastrophic long-term effects. Mitt Romney’s view, as on many issues, is pure quicksilver — impossible to pin down — but when he was governor of Massachusetts, climate change activists considered him enlightened and effective.

Yet neither has mentioned the subject in the debates. Instead, they have argued over who is more eager to extract ever-larger quantities of oil, natural gas and coal from beneath our purple mountains’ majesties and fruited plains.

“We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years,” Obama said in Tuesday’s debate. “Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment.”

Romney scoffed Obama “has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal,” and promised he, if elected, would be all three. “I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses,” he said, adding later this means “bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia, where the people want it.”

If this is a contest to see who can pretend to be more ignorant of the environmental freight train barreling down the tracks toward us, Romney wins narrowly.

Time for another screed on our hopeless media system. Sent October 21:

The candidates’ inability to discuss climate change must be understood as a symptom of a larger malady afflicting our governance. With each passing year, the trivialization of complex policy issues becomes more egregious: government by sound-bite and bumper sticker. Our profit-driven media is an integral part of this malign equation; its irresponsible combination of false equivalence and ADD ensures that the single most crucial issue of our century receives no national attention.

The climate crisis will bring economic, geopolitical and environmental consequences: the likely collapse of agriculture and infrastructure under climatic pressures will impoverish unimaginable numbers of people; we’ll see more drought refugees, submerged nations, famines and governmental instability — not to mention the loss of planetary biodiversity, the extinction of entire species, and the likelihood of devastating “tipping points.”

But for American TV networks, genuine discussions of climate change could be truly catastrophic: people might change the channel.

Warren Senders

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