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The 2014 Climate Change elections

If our Congress is jammed up with Climate Change denial, all the efforts of these agencies of our government to fulfill their responsibilities to the NCA will be castrated.
If our Congress is jammed up with Climate Change denial, all the efforts of these agencies of our government to fulfill their responsibilities to the NCA will be castrated.
Photo by Frank J. Regan

There are a series of noteworthy benchmarks on Climate Change happening. What makes them especially noteworthy is that they are occurring more often, each one more grim than the last –which is what you would expect when nothing is done to address a worldwide crisis.

Some of these benchmarks are: the release of the 3rd National Climate Assessment (NCA); last month’s jaw-dropper “the mean monthly CO2 concentration in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million (ppm) throughout the northern hemisphere”; reports stating that the collapse of the West Antarctic glaciers is inevitable; scientists calling for immediate action on Climate Change which is already impacting the Great Lakes; the looming “Make or break Paris climate conference in December 2015”; the recently discovered human-caused Arctic ice melt, containing trillions of plastic bits; baby puffins dying due to the warming of the North Atlantic; and the 2014 Climate Change elections coming up in the US. All are points, maybe tipping points, along the continuum called Climate Change.

The release of the third National Climate Assessment, which will direct President Obama’s Climate Change efforts until he leaves office, proves Climate Change is happening now. Tragically, the release of the NCA earlier this month has been met with distain by the few, but very powerful and influential, leaders of the Climate Change denial camp:

A power grab by political con artists “Here are the top 10 reasons Congress should ignore advice to pass major legislation to combat climate change:…,” (May 21, 2014) Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)

This is tragic because, despite all reason to the contrary, Climate Change deniers have a good chance of not only staying in control in the House, but maybe taking over the Senate. Thirteen agencies of our government (Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and Agency for International Development) not only participated in the findings of the NCA, but their actions will be based on this particular study. If our Congress is jammed up with Climate Change denial, all the efforts of these agencies of our government to fulfill their responsibilities to the NCA will be castrated.

The 400ppm-for-an-entire-month benchmark means it’s getting warmer. The collapse of the West Antarctic glaciers means a major tipping point in the consequences of Climate Change is occurring where major sea port cities will eventually have to tread water or move. The news about the Great Lakes means that experts are now urging that only long-term funding will sustain the greatest fresh water system in the world. The news on the Paris climate conference is probably humanity’s last chance to address Climate Change on a level that will matter. The news of the trillions of little plastic bits about to be released from the Arctic ice because of warming proves that all the stuff we’ve been dumping into our oceans never, at any point, simply disappeared or was broken down and rendered harmless by unknown natural forces. The news on baby puffins may or may not pull at your heart strings but this news proves the oceans have already warmed with immediate impacts to wildlife. And our 2014 elections will test the American public’s resolve to address a worldwide problem they are largely (though not solely) responsible for.

Back before the 2000 Gore vs. Bush election, I remember talking to a woman about who she was going to vote for. She said she was going to vote for Bush because he’d be so bad that folks would finally wake up on race and other issues. Turns out she was wildly prescient, though I don’t recommend this strategy for the up-coming 2014 elections. Putting a majority of Climate Change deniers in both the House and Senate could be catastrophic, catastrophic in the sense that scientists talking about meteors striking the planet use the word.

Already, the House is trying to pass a bill that would “prevent the Pentagon from spending money to carry out the policy recommendations from the National Climate Assessment or several United Nations reports on climate change and sustainability.” (“House votes to defund reality”, May 23, Aljazeera America)

Though not labeled as such by those who get to frame our public existence, this year’s election season will be the 2014 Climate Change elections; their outcome will either enhance our ability to address Climate Change or those efforts will be severely thwarted.

Those bad things folks have been saying about Democracy (mob rule doesn’t work) for millennia could turn out to be true if Climate Change deniers win in both the House and Senate. (Please note, this is not a liberal rant. Some of those pushing the above bill are Democrats and there are GOP candidates who believe in science.)

Sure, our democracy is screwed up and reeling from an insane amount of money that dominates our politics. ‘Citizens United’ has given corporations who cannot vote an incredible amount of leverage to influence votes. And the present disposition of the American public and the media is to treat our politics like a horse race whose outcome is exhilarating and fleeting. But we’re still able, once the curtains are closed, to vote freely, without the jackboot of denial pressing against our collective will to save ourselves and our children.