America’s drought of political will on climate change

Naomi Wolf writes: As the US faces record drought and an Old Testament-level pestilential heatwave in the midwest, American environmental denialism may be starting to change. The question is: is it too late?

America has led the world in climate change denial, a phenomenon noted with amazement by Europeans, not to mention thinking people around the world. Year after year, the US has failed to sign global treaties or curb emissions, even as our status as a source of a third of the world’s carbon emissions goes unchanged.

It is fairly well-known what has been behind that climate change denial in America: vast sums pumped into an ignorance industry by the oil and gas lobbies. Entire thinktanks to obfuscate manmade climate change have been funded by these interests, as have individual congressmen and women. Entirely typical, for instance, is Louisiana Representative John Fleming, whose campaigns, according to blogger John Henry, accept about $200,000 a year from oil and gas lobbyists, and who uses his social media pages to deny global warming.

It is weird to live inside that US denial about climate change. Last year, for example, as tropical storm Irene approached New York, we duly boarded up windows, put in emergency supplies, and heard endless alarming bulletins from the mayor’s office about which neighborhoods were likely to be submerged if the tides surged – without ever hearing from local officials or the media a word connecting rising sea levels with manmade global warming. All the more weird because New Yorkers weren’t writing off portions of their downtown neighborhoods to overflowing seawater a century ago.

It is weird, too, to watch the leaves turn red earlier and earlier in the fall in the American northeast and have absolutely everyone say, “the weather is strange” – yet never see mainstream media reflect any interest in the connection between human industrial activity and that strangeness. And this weather map shows how widespread and extensive that extreme weather is in the US.

But could our denial be cracking, this summer, as, in the heartland – that most iconic of American landscapes – broiling temperatures injure humans and cook fish in the water? [Continue reading…]

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