Monday, November 5, 2012

Could The Environment Be The Main Issue In This Election, Not The Economy And Increasing Disparities In Wealth? It’s Really The same Thing

Mitt Romney during his Republican Convention acceptance speech, biting his lip in sarcastic mockery of the idea that the world should be concerned about climate change
I just put up a National Notice article that said that the central issue of this election and what everyone should absolutely understand is that the most important thing about the economy right now is that our economy bogs down when we focus the nation's policy on squeezing the majority of citizens so that a few at the top can do a lot better than everyone else. (See: Sunday, November 4, 2012, Central Issue In Election And Most Important Thing About The Economy: We Falter Economically When Everyone’s Squeezed To Benefit A Few At The Top.)

But what if that isn’t the most important issue?  Maybe, as superstorm Hurricane Sandy tends to demonstrate amply well, we should all be considering that the environment is really the most important issue in the election, trumping the economy.  If something isn’t done about weather weirding, global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call it, the earth’s demise as we know it may be irreversible before the next presidential election rolls around.

We all remember how in his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention Mitt Romney said “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans. . . .” and then held back for an extended fourteen seconds bemusedly biting his lip while the entire convention hall laughed (see video above).  Romney then proceeded:
     . .  And to heal the planet. [more laughter]

    My promise is to help you and your family.
As if those suffering from disasters like superstorm Sandy or the drought that wiped out much of the corn belt this year would make any such distinction.  Maybe the distinction is that Romney has said that FEMA, the federal agency that comes in and cleans up after disasters precipitated or intensified by climate change, should be discontinued by the federal government so it can be cast down to the state level and privatized.  And Romney wants to totally unleash the fossil fuel industry.

The science on climate change is in.  There are no real scientists on any theoretical “other side” . . . . just a bunch of paid hacks.  Unless we as a country and a species quickly start changing how we do things we may soon be extinct or, at the very least, well on the way to a world that will have little resemblance to the world that has nurtured mankind since the beginning of human existence.

Is it fair for me at this late juncture to say that environmental destruction from climate change trumps the importance of the economy as an issue, along with the increasing disparities in the control of wealth now dragging it down?  No, because they are really the same thing.   

There is only one reason that we are not now addressing the issues of climate change: It's the vast amount of money that is being spent to cause the public to doubt incontrovertible science.   I suggest people take the time to watch Frontline’s recent hour-long documentary, “Climate of Doubt,” that shows exactly how the money is spent to create this doubt and you can meet, on screen, the people that do it.  While you are at it you may also want to watch Frontline’s “Big Sky, Big Money” which is about much the same thing, how money is secretly deployed to buy elections and politicians.  Even if money is paying for political advertisements that are, say for example about a social issue, those paying to finance those ads may be motivated by only an entirely different concern: Whether their corporations can continue to steal from the public.

Here is what I said in a Noticing New York article on the subject (which also said that New York should prepare for storm surges):
Continued burning of fossil fuels persists because it is attractive to the petroleum, gas and coal industry. It is attractive to them because these industries are highly subsidized. They are subsidized overtly with such things as steep tax breaks and, more important, they are subsidized by not having to pay for what they take from the public. The fossil fuel industry doesn’t have to pay for polluting the atmosphere with injected carbon, they don’t have to pay for the cost of higher sea levels, acidification of the oceans, or extreme weather events. They are also insulated, as in the case of the BP oil spill, from full legal liability for the damage done to the environment from spewing oil directly into the ocean.

In essence, the profit of the fossil fuels industry is predicated on what they are able to extract from the public and the public realm without paying for it.
(See: Wednesday, September 29, 2010, Brooklyn Tornadoes and a Cool-Headed Appraisal of Weather Weirding in New York.)

In other words, what’s behind all the money being spent to prevent the country from dealing with climate change is an intentional transfer of our natural environmental wealth from all the rest of us to those few who are wealthy enough to spend such huge amounts of money.  And maybe those big spenders are so wealthy they think they don’t need to care when the world becomes substantially less habitable.

So once again it's the same issue: The wealth that is increasingly aggregating in the hands of a few in this country is not only bad for the economy, it's also contributing to the jeopardy into which our environment has been put.  (This doesn't even get into the discussion about how good for the economy pursuit of alternative energy policy would be.)

Here is a teaser: This may be the last presidential election where the fossil fuel industry will ever be able to spend this kind of money to buy politicians.  Why?  I’ll have to set that aside and deal with it in a future National Notice article.  But it also could just be too late for the planet if the election is decided the wrong way.

Frontline’s “Climate of Doubt” documentary made one thing clear.  While nobody in Congress is willing to act on climate change anymore, there is an important difference between Republicans and Democrats right now when it comes to climate change: Zero Republicans even answer questions about climate change anymore, while Democrats acknowledge the science.  If we can get a few more Democrats in office acknowledging the science is start.

It matters up and down the ticket how people vote tomorrow.

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