My, what a difference a year makes.
Remember? This time last year, the mere mention of climate change was taboo in virtually any American political circles. All GOP presidential contenders renounced any admissions they might have once ventured regarding climate science. Mitt Romney used rising sea levels as a laugh line at the GOP convention, the height of irony given Tampa’s extreme vulnerability to the rising seas. And for his part, Obama wouldn’t mention the “C-word.” Energy policy was “all-of-the-above,” all the time.
Climate activist Ben Lowe and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action actually went to one of the televised debates to demand that Romney and Obama at least address the matter of climate change — what they called a moral and spiritual issue. Sorry, Ben. No such luck.
So you can be excused if shifting political winds have you confused. Of course, there was the President’s hallmark climate change speech at Georgetown University two weeks ago, giving renewed hope to environmentally-conscious Americans. And newly-confirmed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy then named climate policy as the number-one priority of her agency. But speeches by just-reelected presidents and appointed cabinet officials may not mean all that much. How about people who have to face the voters in the near future?
Well, that’s the amazing thing. Virginia’s race for governor pits climate-denier Ken Cucinelli against former Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe. Unsurprisingly, Cucinelli wears his climate denial proudly. But – and here’s the shocker – McAuliffe wants to be sure every Virginian knows that. He has campaigned with climate scientist Michael Mann, once the target of Cucinelli’s legal harassment. And McAuliffe even runs campaign ads highlighting Cucinelli’s staunch climate-change denial. Take a look:
Maybe McAuliffe is banking on Virginia’s strong core of research university communities. Or maybe he’s counting on Tidewater Virginians who are struggling under the new cost of flood insurance, in light of the projected inundation of Virginia Beach in coming decades from rising seas and intense storms. If so, that may explain what’s going on in my home state – Sandy-ravaged New Jersey.
Up here, there’s a physicist named Rush Holt running to fill the Senate seat of New Jersey’s late Frank Lautenberg. His ads look like a college science lab, and feature the candidate speaking at the whiteboard, warning of rising sea levels, increasing super-storms like Sandy, more frequent floods, droughts and wildfires. In contrast to last year’s campaigns, Holt calls out the evil by its real name: human-caused climate change. Take a look:
And just last week, 65 scientists, including seven Nobel laureates, published an open letter endorsing Holt. “He thinks like a scientist,” they wrote, “so he is skeptical of easy answers and never stops digging until he gets the truth…. As an energy scientist, he has played an especially critical role in fighting to rein in climate change and in supporting sustainable energy research.”
“Our climate is changing,” says Holt. “The consequences are lethal. Humans are responsible. And, America must act.”
So is it possible that the long Narnian winter of political climate denial is beginning to thaw? Might we see members of both parties tackling greenhouse gas emissions? Might that jingling of bells be Father Christmas, at last? Eventually, the spring thaw will arrive, but the timing may be too late unless voters speak up now. A simple email to your congressman could make all the difference in the world. Let’s borrow a few words from Rush Holt for our letters and phone calls:
Our climate is changing. The consequences are lethal. Humans are responsible. America must act. I will vote for a candidate who acts strongly on these beliefs.
Why not try it? All you do is click here, and then follow the “write your congressional representative” link. Before you know it, a politician will have another reason to protect our Father’s world. And maybe the “always-winter-never-Christmas” curse that grips our frozen politics will begin to thaw a bit. Maybe you’ll catch wind of Aslan on the move. Maybe you’ll be part of the happy story.
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.