I have been thinking a lot about climate change lately. Thinking of course, not necessarily doing anything about it. That is harder. So I am determined at least to speak up. I will also try to do something in my own personal life. But I think speaking up is important too.
I have recently left a country that is in climate change denial for another . I have left Canada for the United States. In Canada we are just more surreptious about it. We claim we believe climate change is real and is caused by humans, and we claim we are doing something, but nothing gets done. IN 20 years now nothing has got done. In the US many people still don’t even believe that climate change is happening or that it is caused by human activities. The numbers of those who resist the obvious are shrinking, no matter what their President says about it. I am not sure which country is worse. The hypocrite (Canada) or the resister (the US). Both have serious flaws. Our grand children won’t be impressed.
If the temperature rises 1°C the new UN Climate report released in 2018 says, up to a third of people in the world could lose their source of clean water. At a 2 °C rise people begin to die in what are “normal” summers. Countries already hit hard by hurricanes could see those already dramatic effects amplified, and most fearfully, 1/3rd of all life on the planet faces extinction. If that does not catch the attention of people it is difficult to comprehend what could. Now I admit thinking about things like that are hard. Who wants to do that? Well, for sure, not the President of the United States. Nor most of his Republican enablers. Even worse, millions of Americans still support his Presidency.
Trump was recently interviewed on CBS 60 Minutes and was asked if he still thought climate change was a hoax. He dodged the question. As comic Jim Jefferies said, “Some Republicans continue to say that climate change isn’t real, but the real hoax is Republicans pretending it’s a hoax. They know the science is real, they’re just making so much money they don’t give a shit. ”
Texas Republican Lamar Smith is the Chair of the American House Science Committee and he received more than $600,000 from the oil and gas industry. Another Republican, the senior Senator from Oklahoma since 1994, has many contributors from the oil and gas sector. His biggest funders include ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. It sometimes seems the only thing that one can afford to buy is a Senator.
Of course it is difficult for people to focus on issues like this when you tell them they are going to die. As Anthony Leiserowitz the Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication said, “Climate change is the policy problem from hell. You almost couldn’t design a worse problem as a fit with our underlying psychology or with the way our institutions make decisions.” The problem is that when we feel fear, or guilt or experience anxiety we tend to withdraw from the issue and try to think about something else that makes us feel better. That is much more pleasant. It is difficult to avoid doing that. But critical thought demands it.
As Jim Jefferies said, “Imminent death is too scary to contemplate. If you told me that I am going to die and everyone I ever met is going to die a fiery death my first thought wouldn’t be ‘Oh I’d better bring my own grocery bags to the store. It would be more like, ‘I have been meaning to try heroin.’ The problem of climate change is just too big and overwhelming. How can we possibly deal with a threat to our lives, our kid’s lives, our grand kid’s lives, our great grand kids?”
Jefferies suggested that the only way to get Trump’s attention was with pictures. So he drew one of a Trump Hotel filled with people, but not the kind of people Trump wants. he pictured a Trump hotel filled with dirty refugees. He asked Trump to consider this, “First Mr. President with all the refugees created by global warning, poor people will have to stay in Trump hotels with all their disgusting unwashed faces and their dirty hands.” Then Jefferies had another horror story for Trump to consider. “As the weather gets more severe if you think Stormy Daniels is a problem wait until she is upgraded to Hurricane Daniels!” As if that picture was not graphic enough he had another, “Eventually Russian prostitutes will be too dehydrated to piss on a mattress.” His conclusion was that “we gotta put these pictures on chicken buckets until he gets the message.”
These were stories from a comic. It’s pretty bad when the comedians give us the straight goods and the politicians evade the truth. That seems to be where we landed.