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If Now’s Not the Time to Talk About Climate Change, When Is?  

A nation serious about mitigating natural disasters like the ones we’ve just seen can’t afford to let this moment slip away.  I’ve witnessed the debate over when is—and when isn’t—the appropriate time to discuss the role that climate change may have played in calamitous natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the raging wildfires that have now destroyed more than eight million acres in the American West. On one side of the debate, we have those who believe it’s wrongheaded and offensive to be bringing up climate change while so many people are still mourning loved ones, sorting through debris, and picking up the pieces of their shattered lives. On the other side, we have those who believe we simply can’t afford to postpone the conversation—that any delay is tantamount to abdication.

For the people in this second group, humanity finds itself “confronted with the fierce urgency of the now,” in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Confronted, that is to say, with evidence of an actual crisis in progress, as opposed to a predicted crisis taking place somewhere down the line. And that partially explains the frustration felt by many at the position taken by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and his allies, who decry any discussion of climate change in the immediate aftermaths of Harvey and Irma. It’s hard to swallow an accusation that the “double-C phrase” is “insensitive to mention,” coming from the figurehead who takes every available opportunity to side with the oil and gas industry over the public and to weaken rather than strengthen environmental protections. Rather than a plea for compassion, it sounds much more like yet another muted threat from a climate denier……..

Like Tom Bossert, Scott Pruitt, and Donald Trump, Americans everywhere are seeing the effects of climate change right before their eyes. But unlike them, we aren’t disinclined to study, analyze, dissect, or discuss the causes. Because if there’s anything at all that we can be doing to reduce the chances of another crisis, we’re on board.

We understand the risks of denial—and also of waiting too long to act. They’re the same risks.


September 16, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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