The discrepancy between Americans who want significant, immediate action to mitigate climate change and the climate change denial machine in Washington, DC continues to develop. And the freakish weather of 2012 isn’t helping. Frustratingly, however, DC would rather close the door completely on facts and on the majority of Americans than address the issue.
In a recent New York Times Green Blog post, 55 percent of polled registered voters said America should do “a great deal” or “quite a bit” about climate change. Based on a study by Yale’s Center on Climate Change Communication and a Stanford University-Washington Post poll conducted in June, the data speak for itself with roughly 77 percent saying climate change was important to them. Note also that the Yale study was conducted in March 2012, prior to the devastating heatwave and drought that continues to impact much of the continental United States.
This is heartening information in an age of overwhelming indifference, but it’s also rather shocking that this data is not made more apparent in mainstream media. Instead, the majority of politicians continue to not touch the subject or outright deny climate change even exists. Is it because climate change is a total downer? Is it too “scientific”? Sure, it’s a large and complex issue that needs addressing on many different levels, but that does not mean we should turn our heads and continue living life as usual as our planet warms to dangerous levels. That’s in nobody’s best interest.
Unfortunately, fossil fuel companies and special interest groups will stop at nothing to be sure climate change not only stays off the political agenda, but remains a “debatable” topic. After all, these corporations have a lot to lose if the world suddenly gutted its existing fossil fuel economy for one based instead on renewables, or even a mixed energy portfolio. If these companies were smart, they’d join progressive, forward-thinking groups and companies investing in solar and wind and other clean energy technologies, yet it appears that money talks and change is apparently difficult, even if it means you’re single-handedly funding and supporting the carbon-intensive industry that’s the source of global climate change.
All this said, it’s hard to know where to turn to get something actually accomplished. Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time, encompassing everything from public health and food security to environmental justice and social welfare. Never mind the countless species that are threatened by our insatiable desire for coal, oil, natural gas and the like. Furthermore, the more dire global weather patterns become, the more humanity is poised for greater natural resource conflict and, possibly, war. Is this a world we want to live in? I personally don’t think so. Still, amazingly, politicians in DC continue to close their eyes and ears and push us on a destructive path of business as usual, when, ironically, it’s anything but. It’s clearly time to represent the people, not the fossil fuel industry.
Photo Credit: Kmccoy