As I’m following the primaries, two things keep coming to mind: why isn’t global warming central to the problems the candidates are addressing? And why aren’t we and the media expecting more courage and leadership from them on such an obvious problem?
Newspapers nattering about likability reminds me of the guys rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic was sinking. The largest scientific consensus that the world has ever seen (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is clear that polar icecaps are melting and inundated coastlines will create millions of refugees. On the solution side, there is huge opportunity in the economic transformation needed to move out of fossil fuel dependency. But the candidates give this the tiniest lip service, if that.
Whichever candidates we like or dislike, we citizens and the media should be pressing all the candidates on aggressive responses to climate change. Scratch that: we should be pressing everyone currently in office to make it a top priority.
The last time I was in a public forum with one of my senators from Oregon, I locked eyes with him and said, “Senator Smith, what is your plan for dealing with global warming?”
His answer came down to a dissembling minimization of the problem and a fear that if other countries in effect don’t go first, the U.S. will lose economically. It wasn’t a debate forum so I didn’t argue, but my hard eyes may have indicated I wasn’t buying it.
Later, a governmental affairs officer from a major Oregon company told me I had kicked Senator Smith’s butt. That such a mild confrontation would be seen as a strong one speaks worlds to what minimal courage we are mustering thus far from both our politicians and ourselves on dealing with the hardest problem in our world.