Opinion, Election, Columnist
Posted Sep. 1, 2012, 6:00 am
Steve Stajich / Mirror Columnist
At some point years ago, an exhausted demonstrator warning of global warming probably set down his or her protest sign and sighed heavily, adding, “Those who think we’re kidding won’t believe us until they’re knee-deep in flood waters at their own picnic.”
CUT TO: Tampa, Florida. Exterior GOP Convention. Sign on door reads, “Monday is canceled because of violent weather caused by altered climate. The Oil and Coal Lobby Cocktail Hour will be moved to higher ground.”
For those in the GOP, or anywhere, who are still in denial about climate change and global warming I guess the next question is, “I’m sorry but what, exactly, will it take?”
Romney-Ryan (or as I’m starting to think of it, the Kraken…) believes that there is a jackpot of jobs waiting for unemployed Americans in the “development” of domestic energy supplies. Drill, baby, drill. Coal interests tout a “clean coal” that, so far, does not actually exist. “Energy security” trumps any concerns we might have that the weather we’re creating with our use of fossil fuels could ultimately destroy us… for $5 a gallon.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but because I’m on the road for two months with a tour of one of my theater pieces I’ve had to chance to sample some very tasty mass transit in various cities. In Seattle this past week, my cast and company arrived at the theater from our suburban guest housing by light rail… avoiding traffic, using energy efficiently. At the end of this week, we’ll all walk three blocks and get on a train that will take us to the airport in about 12 minutes… for $2 a person.
Denver, where we worked earlier in August, is deeply invested in light rail and mass transit. However I lived in Denver 20-some years ago and back then light rail and planning for the future was a long and contentious battle. CUT TO: Denver, the present. Someone drove us five minutes by car to a park-n-ride station where we then traveled comfortably to Denver’s huge airport for $3 a person. And in something of a modern day anomaly, that bus was EXACTLY on time.
My point, I think, is that planning for the future does take place in our nation and those plans do come to fruition and succeed. As Neil Armstrong’s passing just reminded us, JFK was able to inspire America to plan and execute on a voyage to the moon in something just under ten years. Why, then, do we seem unable to grasp the immediacy of global warming even as altered climate shuts down the Republican National Convention and ever-expanding hurricane seasons take their toll in lives and damage?
The easy thing here would be to portray powerful energy interests as greedy bastards who care only for profit and not a whit for the disaster they will leave behind after they have crossed the River Styx. I think that while it’s fun to think that people like Dick Cheney sit naked in a bathtub purring in ecstasy as servants pour buckets of gold coins upon them… those cartoonish emotions don’t serve us when it finally comes time to work in some organized way toward a common goal.
Back in the 1940’s and 50’s the auto, gasoline and tire folks worked together… to crush mass transit in cities. Stories that Granddad might have told you about the good old days of street cars and electric buses that took you “everywhere for a nickel”… they only seem like stories and not reporting because of the efficacy of the campaign to push individual automobile travel upon U.S consumers. But it takes two to tango and Americans did fall in love with the freedom of owning and driving their own cars.
Let’s assume that, despite long hours on the 405 where one can feel the life force drain from their soul during rush hour gridlock, we’re not going to quit our love relationship with cars. That means we must find some other means of powering them. I’ve been big on agricultural sources of energy because a real commitment there might save family farms, provide domestic energy security, burn cleaner and be greener… and most importantly get us off oil.
But then the oil we’ve been burning brings on drought, and now you can see heads turning away as you stand in the middle of a sun-baked corn field shouting “We can make this work!”
Meanwhile, despite how the weather showed them who was boss last week, you can bet that Republicans will continue to be in denial about climate change and pointing us toward the oil pumps owned by their supporters. How do we turn them? Shutting down their big national party in Tampa didn’t do it. Maybe someone high in the ranks of the religious right will have a vision that reveals to them the Lord’s displeasure with such things as Dodge Ram 350 horsepower turbo-diesel pick-up trucks carting a skinny country-western singer’s butt to the mall. And that vision will meld with a prevailing belief about life and there will emerge a clear and compelling argument: That even the planet Earth has a right to life.
Steve Goddard said…
Florida has not been hit by a hurricane for seven years,. That is the longest hurricane free period on record. The last hurricane to make landfall in Florida was Wilma in 2005.
Les Johnson said…
Exapnding on Steve’s post: The last major hurricane to hit the US was Wilma, in 2005. That is the longest major hurricane free period in US history.
The longest period since the Civil war, without a huuricane hit on the US just ended, with Irene, a Cat 1 storm.
The global Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index is at near 30 years low in the satellite record.
The numbers and intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic is trending down, according to the last IPCC SREX report.
What you seem to be implying in this post, is that now, any hurricane at all, even weak cat 1 storms, are a sign of global warming. Again, you are implying that there were NO HURRICANES AT ALL, prior to Irene and Isaac.
Good luck selling that.
Steve Clough said…
You ask what will it take? Proof! Read the un biased scientific literature instead of the NYT, MSNBC, CNN, then you will see that your claim is heresy and baseless about man made global warming. You believers have been duped.
Les Johnson said…
Steve Stajich: your
i but because I’m on the road for two months with a tour./i
A quick and dirty calculation of your carbon footprint, assuming you fly to each engagement; suggests that your footprint is larger than the average American, which is 20 times the world average as it is.
Oliver Chiapco said…
Great piece, Steve. While we are all part of the problem, it all boils down to the immediacy of the US presidency – the most powerful position in the the entire planet. The Earth, on the other hand, can wait and languish until it’s all dead and buried. The GOP has plenty of time to play their game — a few more decades of available petroleum and a few more hundred years of recoverable coal. By the time these resources are all depleted, all of us in the present will be long gone. So why heal the Earth and prevent the slow rise of oceans now (as Mitt Romney mockingly implied)? Yeah, we can pass that buck to the 100th US President — and our children’s children.
The ultimate question is not what should it take, but rather, what will it take for the GOP/climate deniers and fossil fuel companies to recognize and act on climate change?
I would like to here from an denier.
Les Johnson said…
kforest: In spite of the mangled and misspelled English, I believe what you are asking is what will it take for someone like me to act on climate change.
First, I am not a denier. I do not deny climate change, or that there is an anthropogenic component, and some of that component is GHG.
I am already acting on energy conservation. I use solar power, smart thermostats, LED lights, etc on my house. I use 20%-80% less power than my neighbors, according to my smart meter.
I have patents in controlling methane release, that conservatively, prevents about 25,000 to 100,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent from being released to the atmosphere, per year.
If you want me to do more, such as contribute to the estimated 40 trillion dollars that Ban Ki Moon says we need to spend, then I would need see a global increase in hail, tornadoes, floods, droughts and hurricanes. According to the IPCC SREX, all these are either in decline, or show no trend. They also say that for the next few decades, they have no idea whether these will increase or decrease.
I would need to see an increase in sea levels greater than the 20th century average,, which was 2-3 mm per year. Note the the IPCC projects sea level to rise at the same rate this century.
Once we show an increase in these disruptive events, then I would need someone to categorically show that CO2, and CO2 alone, was responsible, using empirical data. The only proof right now, is computer models, which is not proof.
After proving the culpability of CO2, you would need to show me that the cost of mitigation is less than adaptation.
Finally, you would need to convince me that our world should pay 1%-2% of the current 7000 global per capita GDP, so that we can save our grandchildren from spending 3% of 100,000 global per capita GDP (as per the Stern Review)
Then, once you have convinced me, you need to convince the Chinese and Indians, before I start paying.
Let me know when you are done.
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