Thursday, September 08, 2016

The Urgent Issue Clinton and Trump Aren’t Talking About

I suggest reading the whole article.

By David Dayen
September 6, 2016

here is something very scary going on during this election. Something that, if it continues, threatens the entire world. And we shouldn’t be complacent about it.

I’m not talking about Donald Trump.

I’m talking about the near-total inattention to the danger to the planet posed by climate change. The evidence continues to mount that we are in an epic warming cycle that will force mass migration from coastal areas and deserts, the largest population transfer in world history. And yet it’s treated by the public — and yes this is a problem about the public, not politicians — as an afterthought, something confined to a distant future, with no connection to the nation’s real problems.

I’ve heard climate change described as a uniquely intractable problem for our political system, because its march is long and slow, and its solutions demand near-term sacrifice to prevent a crisis that isn’t completely visible. Thinking globally, the countries that will begin to be swallowed up by a warming planet have little institutional power, and the international cooperation needed to reduce emissions borders on the unprecedented.

But that calculus has changed to some degree as the consequences of climate change accelerate. The results are visible. In fact, if we find ourselves on many parts of the East Coast, we only have to look down. Tropical Storm Hermine’s coastal trip over the holiday weekend forced many would-be beachgoers along the shore to shelter in place. But along Tybee Island, Georgia, the only road inland can wash out on a sunny day in the middle of June, severing the connection to the mainland.

“Sunny day flooding” is now a fact of life along more and more of the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines, an everyday hazard of water popping up through storm drains or in basements. That means when the rains come to a place like Louisiana, the devastation multiplies. But it also means that toxic weather events aren’t the only concern anymore; everyday life means dealing with the hardship of rushing water. And these aren’t backwaters (pardon the pun) but places like Miami and Norfolk, Virginia.


Granted, Donald Trump sucks the oxygen out of a room, to be sure, and the media devotes almost no time to the issue, even when events like the Louisiana flooding are staring them in the face. Also, the scope of the effort suffers from partisan polarization that has only become prevalent in the last decade; 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain vowed to cut carbon emissions, even with Sarah Palin at his side.


As someone who doesn’t write nearly enough about climate change, I consider myself part of the problem. When Bernie Sanders claimed that climate change was our most pressing national security threat, he was not only correct, but echoing the sentiments of the Pentagon leadership. A day of complacency equals another kiloliter of water washing up on shore.

Rather than programs and policies, in this case the first step really is a mass mobilization. It should not be this easy to go through an entire presidential campaign without the warming planet at the center of the debate. If it is, that’s on us collectively; that’s our problem to solve. Only by making voices impossible to ignore will we even get to the part where we devise a plan before it’s too late, and avoid the catastrophic consequences tumbling out in unpredictable ways, smashing our future hopes.

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