Meanwhile, the World is Burning

It seems like every day – and often more frequently than that – a new scandal erupts from the White House. From appointments, to resignations, to Russia, to botched executive order roll-outs, to immigration crackdowns, to declaring media “the enemy of the people,” to an array of other fast and furious things that I can’t even remember at this point, it’s certainly been an eventful 5 weeks (??!!) since Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Maybe that’s the price we pay for having elected a political novice into the most important political role in the world.

The president does not seem overly concerned about too many of these scandals – but then again, he does not seem overly concerned about much beyond his own self-image. He has a Republican-majority Congress content to sit on its hands to keep its own party in power. He has all the billionaires and Wall Street tycoons he wants perched happily atop his Cabinet, ready to swoop in and nix regulations to benefit himself and his fellow rich buddies. He has determined that his masterful skills in comprehension don’t require him to engage in virtually any on-the-job training, including reading in-depth security briefings (“graphs and succinct bullet points” are reportedly necessary for any intelligence information the president receives). Rather than actually work for the people who elected him, the newly inaugurated president of the United States spends most of his time watching cable TV news, reading a selection of news articles about himself and impulsively Tweeting furious insult-laden responses toward whatever (or whomever) particularly offends his fragile ego. And the man who criticized Obama while on the campaign trail for taking too much time for vacations and golf games has already racked up millions of dollars on the taxpayers’ dime to jet off to his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida not once, not twice, but three times – spending 11 of his first 33 days in office playing extended golf games and enjoying some fine dining to decompress from all the hard work of halfheartedly attempting to do his job for a few days.

But I digress. I’ll admit, it’s hard not to. The stories coming out of the current administration are frenetic and prolific. The president himself appears to be a one-man circus.

Did you know, though, that all this insanity isn’t even the point of this post? I know. Crazy. The president seems to highjack every story these days, and apparently my own thoughts play out no differently.

So…what is the point? You may be wondering. More or less, it is this: that despite all the current turmoil in American (and global) politics, there is a huge looming crisis on the horizon that doesn’t give two poops about Donald Trump, Congress, American citizens or any other global inhabitants. And if you haven’t guessed it yet, please don’t let your eyes glaze over when I tell you that this crisis is climate change.

Yes, climate change. Climate change. CLIMATE CHANGE. People must be sick of hearing about it by now. It’s been a talking point for decades, including when it was described in the more narrow terminology of global warming. “Stop talking about climate change!” is something I imagine many people thinking in their internal monologues, especially after happening to click into some article or another about starving polar bears or melting ice shelves. “I don’t want to hear about the stupid polar bears! I just want to live my life! LA LA LA.” (That’s kind of the rest of the internal monologues I imagine, in case that wasn’t immediately clear.)

The problem, at present, is that the reason climate change keeps coming back as a topic point (and an ever increasingly insistent one) is that we largely HAVE just been ignoring it – and that, unless we are all content with complete and total worldwide destruction and chaos, is simply not something we can continue to do.

I hate to be a downer about this. Reading just one of these articles on the calamitous effects of climate change can lead a person to just wallow in despair. I know, because I do this just about every day. It literally keeps me up at night. And unlike the current stories dominating most of the news cycle, it’s not flashy and scandalous (as far as issues go). It doesn’t have immediate who-what-where implications that can be discerned and dissected. Rather, it’s an issue based in long-term trends, with a ginormous number of contributors, and the only path to combating it is one based in both national and global coordination and action – drastic action. It’s the exact kind of issue that makes an average everyday person sit down and go, “Damn.” And then assume nothing can be done, so let’s just have another beer and think about something less depressing.

I get this, I really and truly do. But the problem is that now, things are happening. The past few years, even to casual observers, have not been normal in terms of our weather and climate. The predictions that scientists made – that climate change would lead increasingly to more severe and dramatic weather events, that sea levels would rise and threaten low-lying areas, that overall warmth would dramatically increase – are all coming to pass.

It is happening, no matter how much climate denialists (who tend to be either well-funded apologists for the oil industry or incredibly gullible/stubborn people who believe their demonstrably false and criminally deceptive claims) want to wave their arms and direct attention literally anywhere else.

It’s happening, whether politicians choose to admit it or not.

It’s happening, whether or not YOU want to keep hearing about it.

It’s time to end the political hand-wringing about the “scientific debate” and to make serious policy steps toward fixing this massive impending crisis. Gutting the EPA and ending climate research is literally the worst thing our country could be doing right now.

I want the arctic to remain. I want the oceans to remain vibrant and full of marine life. I want populations threatened by drought and rising sea levels to be able to survive.

And selfishly, I want my children to be able to walk outside of the house in 20-30 years, during the height of summer, without facing blistering heat at every step. I want them to know seasons, and sea life, and what it’s like to have relatively stable weather patterns for the majority of the time. I want air conditioning to remain a luxury, instead of a necessity for survival. Right now, we are heading straight for a path where all of this may not be possible. And it’s terrifying.

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