By Paul Rogat Loeb
Author of Soul of a Citizen
Following the weather is beginning to feel like revisiting the biblical plagues. Tornadoes rip through Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi—and Massachusetts. A million acres burn in Texas wildfires. The Army Corps of Engineers floods 135,000 acres of farmland and 3 million acres of bayou country to save Memphis and New Orleans. But the coverage rarely connects the unfolding cataclysms with the global climate change that fuels them. We can’t guarantee that any specific disaster is caused by our warming atmosphere. The links are delayed and diffuse. But considered together, the escalating floods, droughts, tornadoes, and hurricanes fit all the predicted models.
Scientists are more certain than ever, from the national academies of every country to such “radical groups” as the American Chemical Society. But the media has buried their voices, giving near-equal “point/counterpoint” credence to a handful of deniers promoted by Exxon, the coal companies, and the Koch brothers. FoxNews’s managing editor even prohibited any reporting on global climate change that didn’t immediately question the overwhelming scientific consensus. Meanwhile, leading Republicans who once acknowledged the need to act, like Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, disavow their previous stands like sinners begging forgiveness. A Tea Party Congress insists that they know better than do all the world’s scientists. Even Obama has fallen largely silent, as if he can’t afford an honest discussion.
The antidote is courage.