Year 4, Month 9, Day 23: It’s Dark In Here

Richard Doak, in the Des Moines Register, speaks sooth:

To date, most foreign policy in regard to climate change has been aimed at achieving international agreements to curb the burning of fossil fuels, so the buildup of heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere can be slowed or reversed. That’s all well and good, but even if such agreements can be achieved and implemented, they would take decades to show results.

Meanwhile, the science suggests climate change is unstoppable. The globe will get warmer, ice will melt, seas will rise. There will be more extremes of weather, more disasters like Superstorm Sandy and more turmoil as in Syria.

That’s why climate-change treaties aren’t enough. The United States can’t just sit around and wait for the climate to return to normal. That might never happen.

America needs to be the world leader in making adaptations to climate change and helping others to adapt. Farmers in now-permanent drought regions need help to find new livelihoods. Coastal and riverside cities need help moving to high ground or building protections. Whole populations may need to be relocated. Buildings in storm-prone areas need to be tornado-proofed. Homes in wildfire regions need to be protected or moved. More innovation in drought-resistant and pest-resistant crops will be needed. Breakthroughs in water conservation and reuse will be essential.

In short, there’s a lot of work to be done. America has always been a can-do country. So let’s do it, both abroad and at home.

True enough. And the source of your problem? September 15:

Yes, America was once a “can-do” country, as Richard Doak reminds us. But when it comes to common-sense response to genuine threats like climate change, the new default setting for our political class is no longer so optimistic. It’s now too inconvenient to prepare for imminent disaster; better to reassure ourselves with platitudes and distract ourselves with irrelevancies.

This is the GOP’s new normal, and its implications for our nation and the world are appalling. For Republicans in our government, it’s not just that meaningful responses to the climate crisis are too much trouble, it’s that thinking about the problem is politically unacceptable. After Katrina, President Bush claimed that “no one anticipated” the failure of Louisiana’s levees. In other words, Republicans didn’t listen to the people who predicted correctly; anticipating the problem was too hard.

There’s a great deal we as a nation can do to address the threat of climate change before it becomes a catastrophic emergency. But it all comes down to the science-deniers in the halls of Congress. Can they recognize that anticipating problems and preparing for them is one of the principal responsibilities of government, and that pretending something doesn’t exist won’t make it go away?

Warren Senders

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