Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"I'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet"

Picture from The Message
If there is any justice, this quote by Mitt Romney will hang about his neck like the proverbial albatross until his sad excuse of a presidential campaign is consigned to the dustbin of history. Global warming and climate change have become one of the most profound issues of our history as a civilized society, and it has been all but ignored by the presidential campaigns and most congressional races.

Hurricane Sandy did not result solely from global warming. As climate scientists have made clear, storms and hurricanes are not caused by warming, but they are intensified and strengthened by warmer ocean temperatures. The best analogy I've heard about this subject is the steroid scandal that infected professional baseball a few years ago. No single home run was caused by steroids, but the total number of home runs rose as players juiced up on the drugs. 

It is one thing to disagree about the dilemmas we face concerning global warming, whether we try to change the trajectory of the build-up of greenhouse gases, or whether we simply prepare ourselves for the inevitable effects of the rise of sea level. It is quite another to completely deny the existence of global warming as Senator James Inhofe does, even as his Oklahoma constituents broil in the unprecedented heat waves of the last few years. And it is even worse that presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who once agreed that global warming was a serious concern, pandered to the worst impulses of his political party by mocking President Obama, saying "I'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet". And climate scientists are harassed and threatened by ignorant fools.

Global warming is no longer a prediction of future effects. It is with us now. Many of the projections that were made a decade or more ago are not only coming true, but they are coming true at higher rates than predicted. I'm not here to argue the point; people who have dedicated their lives to the study of our climate have made all the arguments that need to be made. They simply need to be heard, and our politicians need to seek knowledge about issue rather than rejecting it out of hand under the direction of their corporate contributors.

And now this horrific storm has strewn destruction across our eastern seaboard: What will it take to raise awareness, if not this?