People tend to avoid facing huge problems requiring years of planning and dramatic changes in systems, so of course we’d rather not think about climate change, by all accounts humankind’s biggest challenge. But it’s impossible to ignore in the short term, given news about the havoc climate change is causing worldwide. The world’s people are being plagued not only by heat and drought but extremes of flood, wind, and fire. Hurricane Sandy is now seen as a harbinger of super storms to come. An article in Rolling Stone refers to “the End of Australia.” Climate Change is a topic everywhere you look–on the cover of news magazines, TV specials, podcasts (see Best of the Left, an anthology of progressive voices, on 12/5, 12/8, 1/14), and alternative weeklies (the Honolulu Weekly headline was “Climate Change: Now Showing on an Island Near You“). And although we were holding our breath in fear that President Obama would ignore the problem in his second inaugural address so as not to offend Republicans whose votes he needs for other items on his agenda, he did put it front-and-center. We’re waiting for action to follow closely on those words.
In the meantime, we can take heart from the fact that most Americans are convinced that climate change is real and must be dealt with. In a January 24 Times Opinionator column on how out of step Republicans are–they’re labeling Obama’s inaugural address and his policies “liberal” as though it were a dirty word–Timothy Egan counters with evidence that if Obama’s positions on immigration, gay marriage are liberal positions, then liberalism is winning. What’s more:
On climate change, a Pew poll at the height of last’s fall’s election found strong bipartisan support for taking steps against many of the effects of global warming. There was a significant increase in those who say the storms, fires, droughts, record-high-temperatures and ice-melting of the last decade or so are human-caused. Only 12 percent — and here’s where the talk radio and Fox wing of the Republican party are glaringly out of step — believe it’s some kind of hoax.
Only 12 percent have swallowed the deniers’ propaganda! And people from both sides of the political spectrum want their leaders to solve the problems associated with climate change. That’s a reason to celebrate in the short term, before turning our energy to working toward long-term solutions.