Many Americans repeatedly say their main reason for support of Trump is the economy. In the last week a United Nations conference in Madrid on climate change concluded in failure despite scientists alerting world leaders that we are heading for the worst case scenario. A major reason cited for the failure to act on climate change is the current United States leadership not believing in it, or acting to mitigate it. As Americans consider the cost of Trump on the moral plane, the national security front, the maintenance of the republic, and the respect for institutions; we need to see the speeding freight train of climate crisis coming. Facts and truth don’t apparently matter for a portion of Americans supporting Trump, but there will be no escaping a climate that does not support human civilization at the current scale. We can still escape the worst of a nightmare future, but scientist are alerting all of us that time is running out.
Today we have world leaders and regular citizens who believe that they can speak lies into truth and change people as well as reality. A hard working American diplomat who fights corruption becomes a bad person according to her own president. Everyday citizens routinely trash each other on the internet and behind each other’s backs to change the identities of those they do not agree with, or like. As our civilization deals with existential threats that will require every ounce of science and teamwork we can master it is a horrific time for the worst of human nature to be edified by social media and selfishness. Push for the truth in your life and with your friends. Get your information from more than one source. Act like your life depended on knowing and acting on truth because it does.
In the last few days we have seen the first extreme fire alert in California accompanied by dangerous fast moving fires, and the readjustment of the number of people threatened by worldwide coastal flooding in 2050 raised by 300%. Scientist are starting to speculate about migration patterns leading people to leave drought ravaged farm areas for coastal cities which are dealing with flooding. Video of the fires in California due to Santa Ana winds show the danger for fire fighters as wind gusts up to 80 miles an hour. An ember can be picked up by the wind and start a fire behind the fire fighting line while fires blaze like jet engines on dry brush and grass. As a society we face increasing threats that will multiply in force if we continue our current ways. Vote as if your future depends on addressing climate crisis; it does.
A new poll shows that a large majority of Americans believe that humans contribute to climate change and can slow it. That is good news for many of us who are alarmed by our lack of leadership on the climate crisis. Our country has taken it’s time, but I believe that the United States is uniquely able to lead, and create conditions that will lead to a planet that is more conducive to human civilization. We live in interesting times that will demand our attention and creativity to prevent catastrophe. Hope is what we need to create energy and solutions and the 2020 election will be critical to supplying new leadership that can bring it. I think and I hope we are on the path to confronting the climate crisis as a fully engaged society with powerful markets, and structures to apply to the fight.
We live in strange times where climate scientists and forecasters are under threat of being fired for disagreeing with a President who made a mistake. Other scientist who work on climate related agriculture issues are being forced to move from Washington DC to Kansas City within a three month time frame. In an audiobook by Michael Lewis called “The Coming Storm” tells the stories of government scientist and their research being monetized by outside companies while they are told to remain silent. American tax dollars pay for access to the truth of science to protect lives and livelihoods, but not everyone wants to see the jewel that is our civil service science and research succeed. Some want tax funded research dismantled, or muzzled to hide the truth so that a few can make money, or seem like they know what they are talking about. Every American should be made aware of what our government does well, and not just problems.
The devastation in the Bahamas is a picture of our future, and is a model of how we can respond to the challenges that are now here. Our neighbors have been devastated and need our help. The climate crisis will make more demands on every facet of our lives, and our government. The current administration shows no vision or effort to prepare or respond to the climate crisis except to build a wall to keep refugees and immigrants out. I am planning to give money for Bahamas relief after researching the organizations offering help there. As you follow what is happening on our planet these days consider doing what you can to help. Our brothers and sisters who are the first impacted by the climate crisis will not be the last, and we must develop the capacity to respond. We may not be able to control the weather events that are coming, but we can control what we do, and how we act in response. We cannot allow the future to be a nightmare.
We need to talk differently about what we have been calling climate change. Maybe we should call it hostile climate, or human reducing climate, or civilization threatening climate. I am sure that there is someone who can coin the term that creates focus on reducing carbon in our atmosphere. Every poll indicates that more people see the threat of our changing climate, but are we ready to invest in solutions? The time for talk and marginal action is over. The United States should lead the world in creating the best future possible (from our current reality) with the best science and technology we can obtain.
For even the most determined supporter of Trump the moral arguments in favor of voting for him continue to vanish (if they ever existed). The world is increasingly complex and intertwined, but we have an administration stripping the government of experts of all kinds. The 45th president makes decisions based on opposing whatever his predecessor did, and does not seem to apply any kind of higher level thinking to problems or relationships. Lies are the most used tool of the President. The United States is dealing with increasing problems on a national, international, and planetary level, but we lack leadership that inspires respect of any sort. Who would vote for that?
Despite many distressing signs from the current political administration there are signs that Americans are paying attention to the world around them, and preparing to come back strong as the global leader. Survey data shows that more Americans than ever believe that humans are contributing to climate change, and want more done about it. 75% of Americans according to another survey believe that immigrants should be given a path to citizenship. Having a health care system now makes political sense, and it is hard to find someone arguing against Obamacare as a minimum. There is a lot of work to do, but maybe we are seeing the swamp for what it is and know we can do better.
The recent climate report issued by the UN has reason for hope in it. If humanity can plant 1.3 trillion more trees (enough to fill the space of the United States) the carbon in the atmosphere will be compensated for. This is good news in my mind because if we can quantify what it will take to help heal the planet then we can find a way to do it. Recent reports have been alarming in my mind, but this one stands out because while it says that things are dire; there are reasons for hope. Get together with family and friends and find places to plant some trees!