What’s worse, a nuclear-armed Iran or the oceans rising for the next 1,000 years?

October 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

North American at Risk

Lola cleans herself, using resources sparingly and wasting no time on politics.

I read recently that the predicted worsening of extreme weather is also predicted to hit North America much harder than anywhere else, due to geographic/climate patterns I am not competent to explain. I doubt many people know this. Not that I can speak for the Midwest farmers or people who have lost homes to flood or fire, but the media keeps repeating that the people who contributed the least to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere will suffer most, and this makes people think it won’t be so bad here. Yes, it will be far worse for the poor in Asia and Africa when food prices rise; and storms are more damaging if you live in a shack or a mud hut and have no resources for rebuilding. I’m not disputing that. But it will be no picnic here. We’ll be getting droughts, hurricanes and fires, getting more than our share (or less than our share, depending on how you look at it). The insurance industry is getting antsy. They believe in climate change. How long before coverage gets too expensive, like health insurance?

And how long before economic decline kicks in with a vengeance? Higher food and insurance prices will lead to a lot of people becoming homeless, and a lot more not buying the “luxuries” that make the economy run, and that will hit everyone. It makes me angry that none of this was discussed in last night’s debate. All of the economic and national security questions raised are strongly affected by climate change, which is far more certain than whether Iran will build a nuclear bomb. The military knows this, Joe Biden knows it and Paul Ryan would know it if he visited the “reality community” once in a while. I am quite certain it will be very different in four years. But four years may be too late.

Our politicians are despicably cowardly and I include Obama in that. We all have hopes for his second term—assuming he gets one—and he may fulfill them, but I doubt it. He’ll continue on the track of tougher regulations and subsidies to renewable energy companies (good), but he won’t tell the country that we’re in a climate emergency. He won’t give the 74% of people who believe in global warming the information they need, convey the urgency, propose and explain actions that can be taken (are being taken) on the community as well as national level.

Can you imagine the difference that would make? Maybe he’d pay for it by having more trouble getting bills passed. He’d certainly get tons of shit and be called out on why he didn’t talk about this before the election. But it would well be worth it. If he addressed the public once a month, simply let people know what’s being done and can be done on the state and local level (a smartly composed task force coming up with more ideas wouldn’t hurt), highlighting successes and updating them on the latest science—if he did that, not telling people what they have to do but what they can do, then innovation, creativity and green jobs would bloom.

On that note, it was a bloomin’ beautiful day for the farmer’s market. We bought corn, green beans, zucchini as firm as an 18-year-old boy’s favorite body part (“What will you bring to this country as a man?” “Um, Martha, you want me to show you?”) and what I can only call an ebullience of apples: Macintosh, Macoun, Cortland, Empire. Pie today, pie tomorrow.

There’s a very sharp piece about the debate here

First Fire

Stripped in a flamedance, the bluff backing our houses
quivered in wet-black skin. A shawl of haze tugged tight
around the starkness. We could have choked on August.

Smoke thick in our throats, nearly naked as the earth,
we played bare feet over the heat caught in asphalt.
Could we, green girls, have prepared for this? Yesterday,

we played in sand-carpeted caves. The store we built
sold broken bits of ice plant, empty snail shells, leaves.
Our school’s walls were open sky. We reeled in wonder

from the hills, oblivious to the beckoning
crescendo and to our parent’s hushed communion.
When our bluff swayed into the undulation, we ran

into the still streets of our suburb, feet burning
against a fury that we did not know was change.

Camille Dungy


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