What is the most important issue in this election?
Is it the war in Iraq? Health care for all? Illegal immigration? Surely it’s the economy, right?
The most important issue in this election, the one that cannot be ignored under any circumstances, is global warming and climate change.
I don’t care whether you believe in it or not, never mind that it’s been confirmed to hell and back and the real debate is whether man caused it. To me, it’s as simple as Pascal’s Wager. If you believe global warming exists, and it turns out it doesn’t, maybe you’ve spent some money on some things you didn’t strictly need. Not the first time humans have done that. Maybe you even benefit from making those preparations. You reduce our dependence on foreign oil and thus our dependence on countries that hate us. You could just plain improve the quality of life for the average American.
Particularly important in these times, you could stimulate the economy with the investment. I don’t want to hear Republicans whining to me about how we should “let the market decide” and “government interference is bad” and about how if we wanted solar and wind, the market would have made us all convert a long time ago. Horseshit. Coal and oil have been subsidized for years; a true “free-market” Republican would repeal those subsidies today, but of course, they won’t. Any economist will tell you that when the economy gets tough, the best way to bring it out of the doldrums is to spend government money on investment, not tax cuts, because government investments create jobs and the government not only spends money on the people, it also directly buys from American companies who pass on the money they make to their employees.
But if you decide global warming doesn’t exist and you don’t need to do anything? And it turns out it does? Then… then you’re screwed. Here‘s just a short summary of what could happen: more extreme weather conditions on both ends of the spectrum (don’t you dare get the snowstorm of the century and say “what global warming?”), tropical regions (which means mostly third world countries) becoming desert and formerly fridgid climates becoming the world’s new breadbasket, rising sea levels resulting in catastrophe for coastal cities and maybe even wiping out small, low-lying islands, declining oxygen in the world’s oceans causing a complete breakdown in the global ecosystem, droughts galore and increased salt penetration into groundwater, diseases, all leading to more conflicts around the globe like what’s going on in Darfur, maybe even the release of methane from the world’s oceans and from Siberia potentially contributing further to global warming until the whole planet essentially becomes Venus. Oh, and it could mean more illegal immigrants crossing our border, more Iraq conflicts, and universal healthcare suddenly seeming like a quaint utopian goal.
You invest in stopping global warming, you help bring the economy out of what now looks like inevitable if not in-progress recession – you don’t invest in stopping global warming, and the recession may never end. Some studies suggest we may pass a “tipping point” at which warming would become unstoppable within five to ten years – if we’re not threatening to pass it already!
Wake up, world! There is no such thing as too much climate impact mitigation too fast! Let’s quit bickering between parties and nations and get to work! Yes, let’s help China move off coal now, and let’s reduce our own impact on climate change, and let’s have Europe and all the other nations of the world reduce their own impacts on climate change as well! As a planet and as a species, we either drop everything right damn now and put every last one of our efforts towards moving to a clean energy future or we might as well commit global suicide – consequences be damned because no matter what the consequences may be, the impact of global warming could be and will be worse!
What we need is a president that will declare war on global warming, akin to the war on poverty, but with the same fervor and sense of national sacrifice that we brought to World War freakin’ Two! We need a president willing to drop everything and get to work, and we need to get it THIS election! Unfortunately, actually saying that while still a candidate is a good way to LOSE an election, but all I want to hear is a sort of intimation, through low-level channels, not even sufficient to leak out to the general public, but enough to let people like me know that a candidate knows the scope of the problem and that they are willing to declare all-out war on global warming, to an extent even Al Gore would be impressed by.