Monday, April 25, 2016

The Politics of Climate Change: an incessant drumbeat ... by gimleteye

I'm on my way to Greenland for a second visit (the first, I documented here at EOM in 2013), I thought I'd do some research to see how the world is looking. To prepare myself, I spent a few hours clicking around the NOAA website, that you can easily access here.

The yellow circle in the map above represents a cold water anomaly off the coast of Greenland, that ocean scientists have been investigating. The cold cold water at the surface represents a special concern for the eastern seaboard of the United States including Florida. The reason for the extra-cold water there? Ice melt from the glaciers of Greenland. This cold water is altering the massive engine of deep ocean currents that influence the sea levels and weather.

You would think we would want to know everything we can about the uncontrolled experiment we unleashed called global warming. You would be wrong, at least in Republican circles.

Exactly one year ago, the GOP leadership in Congress undertook to eliminate funding of Earth Sciences at NASA, one of the most important repositories of science in the federal government. We've seen a miniature version of the anti-science jihad by Republicans in Florida, with Gov. Rick Scott slashing the science staff of the South Florida Water Management District. 

In Congress, Senator Ted Cruz lead the rebellion against the NASA budget. He cloaked his dagger in the proposition that NASA should "refocus" on exploration in space, not the earth or climate change that his colleague, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), calls "the biggest hoax in history".

GOP leaders cynically timed their attack against NASA in 2015 because the presidential election was far away (during a year that measured as the hottest on record except for the first three months of this year). They counted on no political consequence, as opposed to this year when the GOP attack would be political ammo for the opposition.

Visiting Greenland in July 2013 was a transformative experience. I went back to my first post from Greenland (you can read the whole lot of them, by clicking here):
I understand that Miami readers ... the principal source of readership for this blog ... find it difficult to comment on the impact of climate change. We established the blog for the purpose of calling attention to local issues and politics that the mainstream media refuse to touch.

We narrow-cast and the comments we receive are a good indicator that an important slice of Miami and of Florida congregate around our blog. We also know our blog is read by those involved in the judiciary at the federal and state level, and know that those special interests who control Florida politics through conservative legislatures at the city and county level and through the state legislature employ people to track the blogs.

Talking about climate change and its impacts needs to be an incessant, constant drum beat. I don't have any expectation that it is possible to divert attention to a long-term crisis affecting Miami any more than it is possible it is to change the media message machinery of the radical right. What I call, the Fox News politburo.
In retrospect, I was wrong and also right.

I was wrong because in just three years the Miami Herald turned its ship completely around on global warming: sea level rise and climate change impacts feature in the Herald pages today.

The Herald followed the mainstream media, in general, on climate change. It is hard to know what forced the change: scientists like Dr. James Hansen who are speaking out -- and even getting arrested in civil disobedience protests, an avalanche of press reports by investigative journalists at the Guardian, in the New York Times and other non-traditional news outlets, like Vice, or just plain observable evidence.

I was also right: "talking about climate change and its impacts needs to be an incessant, constant drum beat." It is, today, and one reason why Florida's fallen GOP candidates to be president -- Jeb Bush but especially Marco Rubio -- failed to advance.

Being anti-science may play in Alabama, but it's not going to get you elected anywhere else.

The impacts of climate change are here and now. In June, I'll start posting the three day flight by small plane to Greenland. Until then, I'll keep coming back to that yellow circle in the map, above, and what it means for our collective future. An incessant drumbeat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And yet... I see no change in development patterns or government plans. It's as if we are building this city in 1954. Look at the massive high rises on the barrier islands and along the coast, all areas to be flooded first. Where are the sacrifices or adjustments? Have we pledged to remove 1 million cars from our roadways? No, we are building more roads and more parking garages. Have we stopped development on barrier islands? No the local governments are leading the building - Watson Island and Virginia Key. Have we even acknowledged we cannot survive beyond 30 years. Absolutely not. Until every reporter covering real estate starts asking in every story about climate change, we are still in denial. And so is the Herald.