FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Climate Disasters

by RALPH NADER

Every year brings the world more climatological science that man-made climate change, or overall global warming, is chronically worsening.

Every year, from Antarctica to Greenland, from the Andes to Alaska, the ice is melting, the permafrost is melting, and very soon the Arctic may have a re-unprecedented ice-free season. Every year, more and more businesses are speaking out on how climate change is damaging their businesses. Insurance companies were in the lead on sounding the alarm on global warming. Just a few days ago, Coca-Cola’s vice president for environment and water resources, Jeffrey Seabright, told the New York Times that “increased droughts, more unpredictable variability, 100-year floods every two years” were affecting the supply of sugar cane and sugar beets, “as well as citrus for [Coca-Cola’s] fruit juices.”

Every year, companies quit the climate-denying U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and instead attend conferences on the threat of climate change at places like the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland for big businesses and politicians.

Every year, more mainstream and conservative economists and companies declare their support for a carbon tax.

In Washington, Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, has put climate change on center stage for becoming what he said is a chief contributor to rising global poverty rates.

Every year, there are more demonstrations and marches of people and students around the world demanding action, conversion to renewable energies, and conservation efficiencies. University students are increasingly demanding their schools’ divestment of stock from fossil fuel companies.

Every year, its seems records are being set for sea level rises, more furious storm surges, heat waves, floods, typhoons, and droughts.

Yet every year one institution allows no change in its political climate; nothing is warming up our Congress of 535 legislators who are split between believers and disbelievers on the climate change crises. The result is worse than gridlock; it has become somnolence.

While people may become more frugal in their energy consumption and while businesses may use more renewable energy, a comprehensive national energy conversion mission, reflecting the urgency of action, has to go through Congress.

Omnicidal as it is, climate change has been taken off the table on Capitol Hill. Yes, there are some bills languishing in the hopper, some statements in the Congressional Record, but overall for different Democratic and Republican reasons, Congress has gone AWOL since the energy bill was blocked in the Senate seven years ago.

The Republicans are aggressive climate-change deniers. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) calls global warming a massive hoax and is willing to debate any Democrat. While, by and large, most Democrats are concerned but unwilling to make it a campaign or electoral issue. They’re even unwilling to take on Mr. Inhofe. Somehow, they’ve myopically convinced themselves – even those with grandchildren – that the fast-looming peril provides no net electoral or campaign cash advantages.

This shocking Congressional bubble has avoided the intense focus of the environmental lobby. Astonishingly, there are fewer than a half dozen scattered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. working in personam, full time directly on Congress and its role regarding climate change.

To open up this critical Khyber Pass, called Congress, blocking action on climate change we need, as a minimum, a new 100-person lobbying organization with laser beam, daily focus on every member of the Senate and the House of Representatives. This group would have the requisite scientific, legal, organizing, public relations, and political experience. Every day, the 535 members of our national legislature would feel the light, the heat, and the might of what these hundred advocates unleash directly and indirectly.

The Pentagon’s study a decade ago would be brought to bear with its dire message that climate change is a national security priority. The federal government’s procurement budget would be steered toward renewable fuel and efficiencies specifications for the energy it purchases. The protest activity at the grassroots, which now bursts mostly into the ether, would be sharply redirected to each member of Congress.

The Congressional hearings would garner regular, intensive and productive national attention. The electoral campaigns of both parties would not be allowed to sideline this giant backlash from nature so abused by humankind.

Where would the $25 million annual budget come from for such a lobbying group working to prevent trillions of dollars and millions of lives from being lost? The question is almost absurd were it not for the bizarre aversion to this focus by well-heeled and leading advocates of addressing climate change.

Megabillionaire Michael Bloomberg, just named the United Nations special envoy for climate change and cities, already funding efforts to reduce coal usage, could write the check out of his hip pocket. Billionaire Tom Steyer, a big time opponent to the XL pipeline from Canada and a proven environmentalist from California, could also handily write the check.

Very wealthy Henry M. Paulson Jr., former head of Goldman Sachs and U.S. Treasury Secretary, who is working with Bloomberg and Steyer to commission an economic study on the financial risks connected to climate change, region by region across the U.S. economy, could also write the check.

And don’t forget Al Gore, the leading global publicist of what climatologist Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University called a “clear and present danger to civilization.” Former Senator Gore – who received the Nobel Prize in 2007 for highlighting the perils of global warming and climate change – could also fund and lead such a group.

Why, readers may ask, am I suggesting a sum small enough that one person could foot the bill for such a portentous peril? Because small sums are better at shaming all those well-endowed institutions and individuals, who know better, but inexplicably have not transformed their concerns into really powerful, serious pursuits for the human race and its more vulnerable posterity.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail