So, a couple of items: 1) NOAA reports that “2012 was warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S.” (other than record warmth, we had the bizarre derecho, drought, Superstorm Sandy, etc.; 2) Australia is burning as a “searing heat wave has smashed records, exceeding 115 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas,” prompting “Australian officials decided to add new colors to their weather maps in case the mercury crept still higher.”
Here in the United States, of course we’re responding to this planetary emergency – one that is already accelerating mass species extinctions and other ecological mayhem, oceanic acidification, and numerous other environmental catastrophes (including to our own species, by the way) – with the urgency it deserves, just as if we’d been attacked at Pearl Harbor or on 9/11 or…oh, what am I talking about?!? In reality, we’re not doing jack@#$@ about the situation, except making it worse of course, by continuing to increase our output of fossil fuels, by failing to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions, by not passing a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill when we had a chance, etc, etc. In sum, as a species, we are now being confronted with our greatest challenge ever, and so far we are failing miserably, and almost absolutely, to deal with it.
Case in point: here in Virginia, where we not only have an all-around lunatic (homophobe, xenophobe, birther, conspiracy theorist, etc.) running for governor (as a Republican, of course!), but someone who incredibly denies climate science and even persecutes climate scientists! Is this just a really lame joke or are we living in an insane asylum? Are we collectively suicidal? Seriously, there are actually real people out there who support Ken Kookinelli to be governor of Virginia?!?
Look, I’m all for people having whatever opinions they’d like to have on whatever topic. However, as the saying goes, you’re entitled to your opinion, but NOT to your own facts. And the facts are clear: anthropogenic (originating from human activity) greenhouse gas emissions have tipped the balance of the earth’s atmosphere into extremely dangerous territory. Not 100 years from now. Not 20 years from now. Right now. As in, today. Which means we need to take urgent action not 100 years or 20 years from now, but today. Actually, we needed to start years ago, but that just means there’s even more urgency now.
So, why on earth are we still “debating” climate science, as if science is a topic for “debate,” as opposed to debating how we’re going to DEAL with it, which is what we should be debating? On the latter point, note that it was conservative think tanks that came up with the idea of “cap and trade,” and also keep in mind that the concept of putting a price on externalities (e.g., case of market failure) is also totally consistent with conservative thought. Finally, the concept of “creation care” is not exactly a radical notion.
So why are the Ken Kookinellis of the world so isane on this issue? It’s pretty obvious: on top of being extremists in general (probably yearning for the Rapture and all that), they’re also beholden to a large extent on entrenched fossil fuel interests that feel threatened by a clean energy transition, and of course by a shift away from carbon-based fuels. Clearly, though, there’s no reason that any Virginian should actually vote for tools and wackos like this. Right?!?
P.S. If I haven’t been clear enough, let me put it this way: anyone who denies science should be automatically disqualified for holding public office in this country, or from being listened to on ANY issue. End of story.