Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Climate Changes, But it Needs to Change More

I'm not sure which I enjoy more; the GOP underestimating Barack Obama's political durability or the fact that the Republican Party is against most policies that would make sense in this world.

The GOP is already under pressure for allowing those that are on no-fly lists to buy guns, as if any interference in the 2nd Amendment is tantamount to treason. I understand that some people who are on the no-fly lists are on there erroneously, but should the bias be to assume that they're on their erroneously? Doesn't Donald Trump's call for keeping all Muslims out of the United States assume, for safety's sake, that all Muslims are terrorists, even the one's that aren't? Or that all Mexicans who want to come here or are here withour proper papers are criminals, even the one's who aren't? I think it makes sense to err on the side of safety and not allow those on the lists to buy guns. That would be prudent.

And speaking of guns, it turns out that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul Ryan had a chat last week about the budget and also about lifting the ban on federally funded research into gun violence, an especially noxious provision that was foisted on the government by the NRA. Just think about that for a second. In a world that's been taken over by data and metrics and crowdsourcing and research, the greatest democracy in the world cannot fund research into gun violence. How does anyone stand for that? Imagine what we might...oh, what's the word...oh yes--LEARN--if such studies were allowed. Ignorance is cheap and the last vestige of the truly frightened. No wonder Donald Trump is leading in the polls.

Which brings us to climate and the real possibility that the world will begin to actually do something to mitigate climate change. It's true that the new accord reached in Paris will not solve the issue. After all, you don't solve an issue that's been around since the 1750s in a 50 year period, but it's a real step and president Obama can rightly add this to the list of historic accomplishments that history will remember and thank him for. It is true that many of the accord's provisions will need further support from the next president, but I have every confidence that the next president will be supportive of the deal.

But again, the GOP seems out-of-sorts when it comes to the climate issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems oblivious to the fact that the coal industry both in the United States and a good part of the world, is on its deathbed. It's not coming back to West Virginia or Kentucky or Pennsylvania and to try and hang on to it and essentially lie to the inhabitants of those states that the coal economy is coming back is dishonest.

Even the oil and gas industry is on the decline, but it doesn't realize how greasy the slope is. Yes, there is a load of oil and gas in the economy now and prices are cheap and getting cheaper. The OPEC nations, who were once the bane of our existence, are reeling and continue to pump more. Why? Because they need every penny they can get and if they stanch the supply and prices go up, they lose again because more people will buy alternative energy automobiles, drive less and look for ways to save money. Saudi Arabia and Iran and Iraq and Russia and Venezuela rely heavily on oil revenues. My fear is that political and economic unrest from falling national revenues will further inflame the world.
That's why this new climate agreement is so important. The President, and many Americans of all political persuasions, understands that addressing the effects of climate change are vital to our economic and political interests. Many of the rebellions that started in the Arab world in 2010 are tied to the lack of water, limited harvests and high food prices. Other uprisings are certainly possible. It is vital that we at least take some action now. This agreement is a first step. And the public is behind the president.

The GOP candidates who continue to deny that the climate is changing because of human activity are in danger of becoming outliers in their own party, and certainly the world. If we are to lead on this issue, and we must, then the national government needs a leader who recognizes that this is an issue to address now. We risk being marginalized or ridiculed by the rest of the world if our president reverses course in 2017 and undoes what Obama has carefully and diplomatically wrought.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest

No comments:

Post a Comment