All the world over, politics runs human affairs, often intruding into issues which are not political in nature. Anthropogenic climate change, or global warming as it is more often called, is one such issue. As with so many things, the prevalence of politics in human affairs, even those which are not political, is doubly true in the United States.
Ever since "superstorm" Sandy pummelled New Jersey and New York City, our changing climate has been in the news, which means of course that the warming issue has been politicized. Despite the reluctance of Hopey-Changey and the Bane Capitalist to say anything about it, story after story has appeared in the mainstream media talking up the storm and the climate. The Los Angeles Times story Sandy a galvanizing moment for climate change? is typical.
One Sunday afternoon in 1969 the filthy, oil-coated Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire and quickly became a potent symbol of industrial pollution, helping galvanize public opinion and set the stage for passage of national environmental laws the following decade.
The combination of Hurricane Sandy and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement that he was endorsing President Obama largely because of Obama's actions on global warming could do the same thing for climate change, say scientists and political observers.
Obama's actions on global warming?
"This may be that sort of Cuyahoga River moment for climate change," said Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and Penn State University professor. "It has galvanized attention to this issue and the role that climate change may be playing with regard to the intensification of extreme weather."
More than half of Americans now believe that climate change caused by human activity is occurring, and 58% say they are "somewhat" or "very worried" about it, according to a September poll by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
"After this crazy weather we've been having the last several years — Irene last year, Sandy this year, the drought, the fires, floods — it's getting more and more difficult for people to deny what everybody sees with their own eyes," said New York climate scientist Scott Mandia, coauthor of a book on the rising sea level. "I think people are starting to connect the dots."
Americans are starting to connect the dots. Can salvation be far behind?
Bloomberg's Thursday endorsement of Obama thrust to the political forefront a topic that has been largely ignored this election season, eclipsed by concerns about jobs and the economy.
"Our climate is changing," Bloomberg wrote in his endorsement posted online. "And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be — given this week's devastation — should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."
Coming from a wealthy businessman and a political independent, Bloomberg's focus on climate change could influence the thinking of Americans on the fence about global warming, said Joshua Freed, head of the clean energy program at Third Way, a centrist Washington think tank.
"He's a capitalist, a different type of person talking about climate change than an environmentalist or yet another elected official," Freed said.
Now, I can't imagine why anybody who is not a politician could possibly give a damn what a majority of Americans think about anything, let alone a non-political issue like human-caused climate change. But I have written that before. I have other fish to fry today.
It is the parochial conceit of Americans that what they think about anything is the only thing that matters. After all, these dot-connecting idiots live in America, which still has the world's biggest economy, and a military which is twice the size of that of the rest of the world combined. Thus Americans simply assume as a matter of course, albeit unconsciously, that what they believe and decide goes for everybody else on Earth.
So I am here today to tell these exceedingly dumb, navel-gazing Americans that it is called GLOBAL warming because it is a GLOBAL problem. In 2011, the current estimate says that 34 billion tons of CO2 was released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity on this planet. Of that total, 29 percent of the carbon emanated from busy smokestacks and other sources in the People's Republic of China. Only 16 per cent of the carbon was released here in the Greatest Country On Earth.
Are you listening, "Wild Bill" McKibben? How about you, Mayor Bloomberg? And Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann, who says Sandy has "galvanized attention" on the issue, are you listening? I assume all these people know where the People's Republic of China is, and (roughly) how many human beings live there.
So why don't the three of you, and another hundred Americans I could easily name, people like the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert, get on a jumbo jet, fly over to The People's Republic of China—make sure you emit some carbon dioxide as you do so—and tell those Chinese miscreants that what a majority of Americans think is the only thing that really matters when it comes to GLOBAL warming?
And while you're at it, since you've got an airplane at your disposal, you good folks can visit Japan, India, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, and sundry other places to give them the same lecture. I am sure you will be well received