Wednesday, January 23, 2019

It Might Matter, To a Democracy

Inside Climate News reports on a new survey showing that Americans are coming to understand that climate change is real and that it's here now.  The article goes on to suggest that the United States might have reached a tipping point on the urgency of dealing with climate change.

Not so fast.

America remains in the grip of a "bought and paid for Congress."  The voting public is a hurdle to be cleared every couple of years but the rest of the term is set aside for those who matter, the money people who keep the congressional machine oiled.

The 2014 paper out of Princeton by two professors, Gilens (Princeton) and Page (Northwestern), makes a compelling case that the United States has abandoned democracy and has, instead, transitioned to plutocracy.  Congress, they demonstrated works for the Boss and that sure as hell ain't the plebs.

Look at the shills Donald Trump has appointed (with the approval of Congress) to key departments such as energy and the EPA. These tend to be veteran fossil fuelers including coal people unleashed on America to strip the country of its environmental defences. Even Trump's first secretary of state was the former CEO of Exxon.  Trump's motto is "drill baby, drill" whether that's a national park, a wildlife reserve or the seabed.

It's nice to see the American public becoming aware of climate change, accepting that it's real and already impacting their lives but how is that enough to reform Congress or the White House?  They elected a halfwit who says he doesn't believe in climate change. This is a guy who takes a 1,200 page National Climate Assessment produced by hundreds of experts from a dozen federal departments and tosses it in the bin, saying "I don't believe it."

It would be so much better if the climate change deniers were solely within the Republican ranks but that's not the case. There are Democrats who say they don't get it or fall back on that old "we can't harm the economy" dodge (just like prime minister Justin Trudeau).

Does this mean there's no hope of an American epiphany? Of course not.  If a significant percentage of the voting public gave climate change the same priority they give to taxes, enough that it could cost the deniers their control of the Senate and the House, change of sorts might be possible.  Of course, as we've seen in Canada for many years, there's "change" and there is "talk of change."  After all, America, like Canada, is a petro-state which is synonymous with double talk and dirty dealing.

Then there's the time factor. We don't have a lot of that, certainly not enough for a 20 or 30-year turnaround. And don't forget America's ball and chain - a society more divided than at any time since the Civil War. How will they close ranks?

I hope I've got this all wrong. We'll know soon enough.

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