Year 3, Month 9, Day 26: GOTV!

The Morning Sentinel (Waterville, ME) runs an article by Richard Thomas, titled “Voters must press both parties to address climate change”:

This summer, flooding, hot spells, drought and firestorms are beginning to show us that climate change will be the defining issue of this century.

The drought in middle America already has caused a 10 percent rise in food prices.

Unfortunately, it appears that the impact of climate change will become much more extreme for a number of reasons. Individually, we have little control over this, but we do have a chance during the coming elections to push our government to face this issue more responsibly.

The factors that appear to make extreme climate change inevitable include the length of time required to build a new “green” energy infrastructure, the profit structure of corporations, politics and human nature. The health of our economy depends on cheap portable energy. Now, this means burning huge amounts of oil, gas and coal.

Unfortunately, burning fossil fuels releases a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, which leads to climate warming. Even the CEO of ExxonMobil now admits that burning fossil fuels is making climate change worse.

A fundamental switch to renewable energy sources, however, will slow, because it will take many years to build the new infrastructure (windmills, solar panels, etc). If we wait until our climate becomes really alarming before we start shifting away from burning fossil fuels, global warming will continue to worsen for many more years.

Good luck with the “both parties” part. I waxed philosophical in this one, bolstered by a 300-word limit. Sent September 19:

When it comes to the climate crisis, both our political and media establishments have been utterly unable to cope with an emergency whose dimensions cannot be reduced to sound bites and sloganeering. The causes of this dysfunction are many and varied, but can be grouped into three major categories: fear, ignorance and greed.

Our fear is easily understood: human beings prefer to avoid bad news. Because climate change unfolds gradually over time, there will never be a single iconic moment which will instantly overcome our collective timidity and galvanize us into concerted action.

Our ignorance stems from failures of education. The same nation that once put humans on the moon now publicly elevates celebrities who believe the Earth is flat. In a political culture that disparages learning and expertise, continued scientific verification of the greenhouse effect can have no impact on the minds of our legislators.

Lastly, while all of us wish to keep our conveniences and augment our lifestyles, the charge of greed is rightly directed at those who reap huge returns from our continued consumption of fossil fuels. The big coal and oil companies are already among the most profitable corporate entities on the planet, and these huge economic powers have no wish to relinquish even the tiniest fraction of their gains, even if humanity’s future hangs in the balance.

These are the three forces we must overcome if we are to address the climate crisis. In November, let us vote in favor of courage, wisdom and responsibility, and against fear, ignorance and greed.

Warren Senders

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