Can political climate change fight climate change?

It is difficult for me to understand the whole challenge of climate change. For starters, I’m a lawyer, not a scientist. On the other hand, I actually prefer warm weather to cold weather. But something seems to be happening around us that is changing our environment much faster than the previously perceived glacial rhythm.

Before coming to what should be done to fix the problem, it would be helpful to understand the problem in scientific detail. But I don’t. What I see and hear is alarming to say the least. This is alarming on a very personal level, but also on an existential level. On a personal level, I want to spend my remaining time exploring the outdoors, enjoying some of the wonderful places I’ve been before and discovering new ones along the way. I want to catch more fish. I want to be able to hike, bike and kayak without fear of heat stroke or hypothermia. I want my 26 year old son to continue his life on a planet that still brings joy and wonder.

It seems, however, that what I want won’t matter if the planet continues its disappearance. Just watching wildfires consume once verdant landscapes and seeing lakes and rivers shrivel dry should be warning enough to know that something is seriously wrong with our globe. And it’s not just a bad season.

Climate does not affect politics

Part of the problem in the United States is that climate-related disasters like the latest killer flood in Kentucky or the debilitating heat wave in Texas don’t seem to be impacting the political slump in those states and others like them. . Nothing seems to spark voter outrage against climate change deniers who continue to win voter support and who are themselves backed by some of America’s most corrupt corporations.

While there can be political reactions immediately after a climate disaster, the kind of sustained commitment required to prevent future disasters often diminishes as soon as relief funds start flowing or attention shifts to the next disaster. . I just don’t understand that. Watching someone else’s obsolete earth dam burst should lead to a critical analysis of each earth dam’s vulnerability, but it doesn’t. Not even after it happens again elsewhere.

It sounds like black voters who continue to vote for Republican candidates and Latinos who somehow think treating their immigrant brethren like so much human trash is a plus. Abraham Lincoln was the last Republican to do anything for black people, but some black people never learn. Some Latinos are so hurt by a sense of generational deprivation that ignoring the struggles of today’s immigrants seems to add an artificial measure of self-esteem for those who have found a path denied to so many.

Through all this political thicket and surely when it comes to climate change, I think you will be fine. I’m old and white and privileged and don’t live near a regularly flooded stream or drought-ravaged forest. There seems to be plenty of drinking water around and the supermarkets are full of produce from somewhere. It seems a bit warmer these days, but it’s summer and the air conditioning keeps running. So why do I care?

I don’t know why I care about climate change, but I do. Unfortunately, it seems that not enough of us are demanding something much better, like a comprehensive science program and the implementation plan and budget needed to stem the destruction and begin to repair the damage. To its credit, the Biden administration is trying to move the country in the right direction, and the newly passed Democratic legislation provides some of the resources needed to meet environmental commitments.

This legislation is a reminder of what can be done when resistance is aggressively pushed aside. It is also a reminder that the entire Republican cohort in Congress continues to sell poisonous snake oil to future generations. There continues to be far too much political, social and economic resistance to climate change about climate change. There is no excuse for this resistance and no excuse for the willful ignorance that drives so much of the resistance.

To overcome resistance and move towards a coherent environmental policy aimed squarely at reducing global warming and the impact of climate change, there must be a fusion of two essential concepts – community consciousness and good governance. Without both, I fear that efforts will fall far short of the goals associated with slowing and reversing climate change.

Yet in America, as in much of the rest of the industrialized world, neither community consciousness nor good governance prevail. Nowhere should the absence of the collective will and the institutional framework required to meet the climate challenge be more glaring than in America. As one of the world’s top polluters by any reasonable measure and with the resources to do so much better, America’s national failure to aggressively confront climate change looms large on the world stage.

The climate is sacrificed at the altar of convenience

On this front, the real enemy is embarrassment. It’s America’s antidote to compassion. Americans can wallow in outrage at the best of them, but as soon as it gets awkward, the outrage gives way to beer, bourbon, and beaches. American attention span is so short because national intolerance for inconvenience so easily distracts attention.

This is especially evident when it comes to climate change – raising your summer thermostat for a day or two just won’t do the job. Meanwhile, corporate greed ensures that all steps will be small and protect profits rather than people. On the American right, the downsides rise to the gospel, and the truth is hard to come by. On the American left, we love a good protest, but we can’t block bridges or boycott retailers long enough to make a difference.

Even if annoyances don’t immediately overwhelm outrage, intermittent outrage followed by a return to the barbecue is almost worse than no outrage at all, because it creates the illusion of being cared for without any commitment to continue. be attentive. Once a society ceases to care about members of the community as a whole, it will always fail to explore pathways to positive collective outcomes.

A big part of the remedy is community awareness. It’s a simple concept – think enough about those around you that the decisions you make reflect something bigger than yourself. Know a little about who is struggling in your orbit and find a way to help. This family a few blocks away really needs snow removal on their street before yours is removed because their 13-year-old child has to go to the kidney dialysis center. You and your street can wait. When you understand that plowing their street is more important than plowing yours, you are on the path to community awareness.

Good governance is also a simple concept – it centers on the notion that human beings need an organized way to acquire community assets and then direct community assets to meet community needs. The focus here is on the “organized” part of the equation. If you understand why some schools are better than others, then you probably understand good governance. You understand the positive impact of sufficient human and financial resources organized to promote the goal of a good education, supported by policies and practices that work.

To address societal challenges, community consciousness provides the fuel for good governance and the oversight needed to protect good governance from those who would corrupt it. Think about it as the next wildfire burns something beautiful to behold. Then join the fight to understand the challenges that climate change presents and provide the spark that triggers a meaningful response somewhere.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.

Teresa H. Sadler