Climate disruption: the October surprise to political denial
Like Mary Shelley’s monster, watching this extreme storm should remind us it’s time to be the intelligent and innovative human beings that we are and to not be afraid. Yes, we need to sound the alarm, but we also need to face political denial head on and call for accelerating solutions.
By Kimberly Larson
Yesterday, images of the dire impacts of climate change came together with images of heavy denial like a surreal sort of movie unfolding before me right in my living room.
I was working from home so I could focus on some deadlines and had CNN on in the background so I could stay tuned to Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.
One of my deadlines was reviewing the upcoming documentary Chasing Ice, as there is a Seattle screening on November 16, and Climate Solutions wants to help promote the film and its message. It’s a fascinating movie about how one man, James Balog, is compelled to capture the massive melting of the glaciers before they’re gone, with the hopes to convey the global warming impacts we’re already experiencing.
As the film footage of disappearing glaciers ran in the foreground on my laptop, behind it was the CNN footage of the growing Frankenstorm on the East Coast. As my colleague KC Golden pointed out, the media quickly quipped that Frankenstorm name because it’s so close to Halloween and is made up from the parts of several storm systems, but it’s also such a frighteningly accurate name since its power and size are partially human-created.
Along with the Frankenstorm footage, CNN ran fossil fuel industry political campaign ads, complete with images of oil derricks, coal trains and tar sands. Peppered in between the ads were occasional cuts of presidential campaign stops. The ads combined with the campaign footage cut so close to the quick.
For the first time since 1984, the presidential debates did not include a discussion about climate change. In response to not bringing up a question about climate change after the second debate, moderator Candy Crowley replied that she decided to not bring it up because “we knew that the economy was still the main thing.”
Many of our political leaders are deep in quagmire of denial – political denial. It’s not about whether or not global warming is happening. It’s is about whether or not we should treat global warming like the urgent issue it is, let alone even be talking about it.
With costly disaster relief, rising food prices from this summer’s drought, insurance rates going up and an economic engine mostly hooked on fossil fuels, global warming and the economy could not be more inextricably linked. Yet in all the debate about how to fix the economy, addressing global warming is left out of the national discussion. It’s too hot to touch considering the influence of the industries feeding the system.
Maybe global warming will be the October surprise we need to wake up politicians to the fact that more than a majority of Americans believe that climate disruption is real and that we need to do something about it.
Like Mary Shelley’s monster, watching this extreme storm should remind us it’s time to be the intelligent and innovative human beings that we are and not be afraid. We need to sound the alarm, and we also need to face political denial head on and demand accelerating solutions.