Bringing The Heat
(July 31, 2012) It’s been nearly impossible to ignore the record-setting heat baking the U.S. this summer. Triple-digit temperatures have roasted residents across the country, and the severe drought that’s plaguing more than half of the continental U.S. has shriveled corn and soybean crops. It also prompted the Department of Agriculture to declare 1,297 counties in 29 states federal disaster areas. Last month, record-breaking wildfires tore through Colorado; they were sparked, some say, by climate change-related conditions. And this month, NOAA released a report that essentially attributed the recent heat records to man-made climate change.
So, it’s been very hard to ignore – especially if you ever go outside. But not impossible. Both President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney are doing a fine job pretending climate change doesn’t exist, suggests Schwartz Fellow Mark Hertsgaard in The Nationtoday.
“Nobody expects [action from] Mitt Romney, who sang the Tea Party tune on climate science during the Republican primaries only to claim he isn’t a denier now that he faces a general electorate,” Hertsgaard writes. “ But President Obama is the great disappointment. In an April interview with Rolling Stone, he said he’d make climate change a campaign issue, but he has been shamefully silent as the heat wave dominates headlines. “
Obama has failed to slow the rise of oceans and heal our planet, to paraphrase his speech from the 2008 Democratic National Convention. But his crime isn’t simply silence, Hertsgaard says. “Instead of championing—and fighting for—an ambitious program for a green economic revival, he has buckled to pressure from a fossil fuel industry that dismisses any attempt to protect the environment as a ‘job-killer.’”
Hertsgaard suggests that “mobilized citizens” and grassroots activists now represent the best chance we’ve got to push climate change onto the political platforms of candidates. Still, even with an uptick in constituent activism, it seems unlikely that we’ll see Obama or Romney address the issue seriously before November over time, [and] in predictable amounts so businesses and consumers could plan accordingly.
Author: Elizebeth Weingarten, First published in New America Foundation, July 26, 2012