What Will It Take?

As the world tries to endure the hottest summer on record, one has to wonder what it will take to get legislative action to combat global warming.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA is impotent to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and now Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is in the coal business, has blocked passage of a bill that would have helped transition us away from coal-fired power plants.

I think you will agree that timing is a critical factor in determining the failure or success of many things in life.  The timing of this double whammy couldn’t be worse.  Both of these major setbacks are like throwing Brer’ Rabbit back into the briar patch.  Due to the gridlock in Congress, they will cause years of delay and delay is just exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants.  We are running out of time.  We don’t have the luxury of dithering. 

How can it be that our federal government can’t agree upon a program of aggressive action when an overwhelming majority (70%) of Americans believe that global warming is occurring rapidly and that burning fossil fuels is the cause?  Now, only 19% are climate deniers, yet Republican politicians and Joe Manchin not only do nothing, they actively obstruct progress.  This cannot be explained by anything other than the overwhelming power of special interests, particularly the fossil fuel industry.  Although it is undoubtedly true that fossil fuels are necessary and will be necessary for the foreseeable future, now is the time to be ambitious rather than preserving the status quo.

For more on this topic, read the column by Paul Krugman in the New York Times entitled “Climate Politics Are Worse Than You Think.”

Our extreme weather has also contributed to a deepening drought from California to Texas.  Texas is on the verge of a drought as bad as 2011.  If anything, California and the Western States are in even worse shape.  Yet, Texas politicians are saying nothing other than how glad they are that water intensive industries such as semiconductor manufacturers are coming to Texas and welcoming a surge in population growth.  It just makes no sense for Texas to act like we have an unlimited supply of water when the facts say otherwise.  Am I overreacting?  Maybe, but I don’t think so. The daily warnings to use less water and water rationing send the message loud and clear that if we don’t have enough water for the people and businesses already in Texas, we sure don’t have enough for even more people and businesses.  The correlation between water and growth is plain to see, but Texas politicians see only growth and, to them, growth is always good.  That’s madness. 

If you are frustrated by the political gridlock caused by special interests and fearful of discussing global warming with your family and friends, there is a very good column by Margaret Renkl in the New York Times of 7/28/2022 entitled “How to Talk About ‘Extreme Weather’ With Your Angry Uncle.”  It’s not as funny as the title, but it makes a good point:  “…when you look at any large societal change, it did not come from the top.  It was instigated in every single case by ordinary people who used their voices.”  We need to speak up and we must vote for change.