Sep. 9, 2017

Extreme weather events continue

Wow! Irma, Jose, Katia. Irma wind speeds hover between a cat 4 and a cat 5. She has sustained winds near 185 with gusts up to 215 mph. It has wrecked destruction across several islands south of Florida and Floridians are preparing for this massive hurricane. I have seen pictures comparing Andrew, the last cat 4 that hit Florida, to Irma and it makes Irma look like a monster. Also, Andrew went across the state, while Irma is predicated to go straight up and engulf the entire peninsula.  Right now, she’s trending west which puts the whole state of Florida on the dirty side. Jose, a cat 4, is right behind her- possibly adding insult to injury if it follows a similar path and hits the places Irma has already decimated.  I haven’t seen many projections for Jose- the focus is on Irma bearing down towards landfall.

With all the natural disasters occurring in the moment (extreme hurricanes, massive wildfires) there is an increase in climate change discussions across the country. My partner was getting her hair cut recently and remarked that several people around her were talking about the extreme weather and had concerns about climate change. The unprecedented environmental disasters are grabbing more peoples’ attention. These big disasters are tragic and cause so much destruction. They are an obvious result of excess heat in the atmosphere and oceans. It may be a generalization, but we seem to be rather short-sighted as a species. Instead of being proactive, we wait for the disaster and then are forced to be reactive.  We all will need to adjust to the new normal in terms of extreme weather. 

I do think a majority of Americans are willing to listen to the concerns of the scientific community. But there is a very vocal group that believes climate change is some sort of massive liberal hoax to take their money. For a long time, the argument was the climate isn’t changing or what about the predictions of an ice age or some other erroneous rationalization. But with increasing changes, unprecedented weather and wildfire events, acidification of the oceans, bleaching of coral reefs, melting of glaciers, inundated islands and coastal areas, climate change can no longer be denied. The argument has now become, okay the climate is changing, but it’s not manmade. Arm-chair scientifically illiterate yokels get their science from Jr College dropout media personalities and believe their ignorant conjectures and assumptions are truth.  

American conservatives are about the only group on the planet that are so entrenched in their ideology, no facts or evidence will sway them. Not all politically conservative people deny climate change, but in almost all the world, anthropogenic climate change deniers are conservative Americans. The Republican platform erroneously uses the term conservation, but also states more concerns about the economy. They are against environmental regulations (especially the EPA regulating carbon emissions), carbon tax, parts of the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (claiming it is politically biased), the Paris Agreement and subsidies for renewable energy. They are for fracking, more oil pipelines, drilling on federal lands, drilling offshore, and propping up the failing coal industry. But the reality is, many of the conservative representatives in our government are not representing the majority of Americans when it comes to the environment and climate change. Here is a link to the GOP platform on the environment: https://www.gop.com/platform/americas-natural-resources/

I have relatives that vote for conservatives stating it’s all about the economy or their stance on religion, abortion, states rights. These are important issues and both parties have concerns about them, but have different ideas about policies and solutions. Some conservatives were upset about how the Dakota water defenders were treated by the very people they elected, but were silent when Trump ordered the military to disrespectfully remove the people. They care about pesticides in our foods, but didn’t seem to object to Pruitt, a guy in the pocket of the petrol-chemical and agribusiness industries, being nominated by their candidate. Pruitt is dismantling the EPA and has already allowed the use of dangerous pesticides that are known to cause brain damage. They care about the wolves, but put people in office who are allowing hunting of this and other endangered species- even during hibernation. They were silent when our nation stepped out of the Paris Accord. They claim to care about the planet, the quality of our air, water, oceans, soil etc, but then continue to vote for the very yahoos whose anti-environmental stance is clearly stated in the GOP platform document. Even as our coastal areas are being decimated by unprecedented storms, our forests out west having an unprecedented fire season, floods worldwide, they still extol the virtues of their candidate- who does not represent their own views on the most important issue facing our species. I just can't understand how they deal with the cognitive dissonance and compartmentalization of their politics with their love of Mother Earth or cares about the environment left to their children and grandchildren. Our descendants will look upon us with distain and wonder at our stubbornness. We can't take the actions needed to mitigate as long as we keep putting climate change deniers in office.