How would you answer the question? I see the pending disaster in Southwest Florida as additional evidence of climate change. To me it’s obvious. Others, however, would answer by asking me to give them a break. They would remind me that hurricanes are nothing new. They would also ask me for evidence of a direct causal connection between climate change and hurricane Ian. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s possible. Even Al Gore would struggle to find a credible answer.
So why do I think Hurricane Ian is telling us something? It’s because we have had a year of heat waves, forest fires, and record cold snaps. We have also had a year of video showing the Greenland ice cap melt and listened to scientists talk to us about the sea level rising.
The message about climate change has been received by the Democrats. The so-called Inflation Reduction Act includes large appropriations to address climate change. I applaud President Biden for his win on the bill.
Republicans, unfortunately, did not get the memo. Have you read Republican Leader McCarthy’s “Commitment to America?” It is supposed to be a set of promises to the American people to be delivered on if the Republicans win control of Congress. When I read it, I looked for something on climate change. I didn’t find one. Republicans want America to energy independent and build a wall on the Mexican border in the hope of stemming illegal immigration. Climate change, to them, is less important that those and the other issues addressed in the plan.
For several years I have wondered what it will take to get conservatives to accept the reality that climate change is an existential threat to our future. Do we need a category six hurricane? Or more “heat domes?” I don’t know but am struggling to continue to believe that some time soon, some time before it is too late, that a national consensus will emerge that will prompt government action that will make last month’s Inflation Reduction Act look small.
In thinking about climate change this week, I also thought about what issues have trumped it this past year. The answer is Trump, his big lie, and efforts to those responsible for January 6 accountable. I wonder, had Donald Trump simply walked away from the presidency after losing the 2020 election, would the nation have had a different conversation, a conversation about climate change, racial equity and justice, and public health? I suspect we would.
I have also noticed the last couple of days that there is more news about Hurricane Ian than there is about Trump. Even the final hearing of the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol has been postponed.
I had planned to spend this afternoon watching the January 6 hearing. I was looking forward, in a perverse sort of way, to watching the teased excerpts of Roger Stone’s documentary about January 6. I expected to see more “bombshells” proving Trump’s involvement in the insurrection. Instead, my TV will be tuned to the Weather Channel. I dread seeing storm surges of up to 12 feet in an area of Florida that I visit regularly.
I will be thinking about climate change. Hurricane Ian is telling us that there something out there even more important than holding Trump and others accountable for their crimes. That something is addressing climate change.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.