“Say something so big finally happens (a giant hurricane swamps Manhattan, a megadrought wipes out Midwest agriculture) that even the political power of the industry is inadequate to restrain legislators, who manage to regulate carbon.”
I wish I hadn’t written it because the first half gives me entirely undeserved credit for prescience: I had no idea both would, in fact, happen in the next six months. And I wish I hadn’t written it because now that my bluff’s been called, I’m doubting that even Sandy, the largest storm ever, will be enough to make our political class serious about climate change.
Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe – just maybe – the arrival of a giant wall of water in the exact middle of the financial and media capital of our home planet will be enough to get this conversation unstuck. Maybe that obscene slick of ocean spreading unnaturally into the tubes and tunnels of the greatest city on earth will shock enough people to change the debate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, allowed as how:
“There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. That is not a political statement, that is a factual statement … Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns, I think, is denying reality.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg added:
“What is clear is that the storms we’ve experienced in the last year or so around this country and around the world are much more severe than before.”
Truthfully, I think I’d just as soon see statements like that as carefully thought-out endorsements of climate science. It’s experience that changes people: the summer’s drought left more than half of American counties as federal disaster areas, and meteorologist Jeff Masters estimates Sandy hit 100 million Americans with “extreme weather”. Add in the largest forest fires in Colorado and New Mexico, the hottest month in US history, and the completely absurd summer-in-March heatwave that kicked off our year of living sweatily, and you can begin to understand why the percentage of Americans worrying about global warming has spiked sharply this year. Spiked high enough that even a few politicians are willing to speak out. [Continue reading…]