Arrested development: climate change a dead political animal
"Nobody is speaking out in a sufficiently loud way," said Bill McKibben, the author and founder of the climate change advocacy group 350.org. "We just came through a summer that saw the warmest month ever recorded in American history -- July. There's never been any month in any year warmer than that. And as far as I know, that went entirely unremarked by any of our political leaders."
Such is the premise behind a website launched Thursday morning by a pair of organizations hoping to nudge climate change into a more prominent place in the campaign dialog. The site, ClimateSilence.org, argues that both Romney and Obama have shifted, softened or otherwise toned down their public statements on the problem in "a collective descent toward mute acceptance of global calamity."
Whether the new site remains after this election ends is up for grabs. Other surveys show it probably won't. Call it lack of interest.
Why? Since 2010, global warming has been coming in at the very bottom of what's important to Americans. This is according to Pew surveys that are taken every year on what people believe are the nation's top priorities. The primacy of the economy is still No. 1. As early as January 2012, global warming still ranked at the bottom.
Since Gore's An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006 and rattled the world with undue alarmism, 77% of Americans believed (in aggregate) that there was solid evidence of global warming, with 47% believing it was man-made. In 2011, that number has plummeted to 63% and 38% respectively. A whopping 28% said No and 9% said 'mixed evidence/don't know.'
Since political candidates follow the polls (even when they say they don't), it's unsurprising that Romney and Obama are paying lip service to climate-change issues this election. Nary a mention of it was made at either political convention, with Romney making light of Obama's messiah-like oratory skills by saying, "President Obama promised…to slow the rise of the oceans [pause] and to heal the planet." Insert punchline here.
Obama shot back during his convention speech: "Climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children's future, and in this election you can do something about it." As you can see, Obama really can't help himself when it comes to reining in the flow of disinformation. And the only threat to 'our children's future' is the 50% increase in our deficit under Obama's four-year term.
He should have stated that sea-level rise has remained constant as it has for the last two centuries, and that we are smack-dab in the middle of an interglacial period. But who wants to hear the truth from a politician. He fed the stalwarts of his party exactly what they wanted to hear, whilst pleasing his environmental supporters.
And Obama should not use the destruction of anyone's property or loss of life as political fodder. For blaming it on global warming is akin to a 17th-century farmer blaming his poor harvest on his next-door neighbor (she be a witch, I tell thee now!). History shows that the decade-long drought of the 1930s was a climatic event and much more extreme than anything we've seen in the past ten years.
Instead of creating websites devoted to climate silence, where crickets start chirping at the mere mention of global warming, our candidates should focus all their attention on jobs, the deficit, and skyrocketing energy prices.