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Climate Change Was the Elephant in the Room at Election 2012, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 658

Essay

Storm Sandy might have played a key role in the re-election of President Barack Obama or not, that is for the pollsters and political analysts to decide. What it did certainly do was cast a shadow over the whole election.

Whether the images of the President and Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey cosying up together swayed voters or not, the damage the storm wreaked was unequivocal. Total government funds allocated to clean up the mess may end up being in the $55 billion region. A huge price to pay for any nation.

Yet there has been a strange silence in most of the mainstream media about its possible causes. One might think that something which is going to cost the country billions of dollars would warrant at least some measure of informed debate about what caused it.

Potential reasons are staring us in the face. Ice in the Arctic melted at an unprecedented rate this summer, seeming to shift the storm zone of the Atlantic. Ireland and the United Kingdom, on the other side of that mighty ocean, were drenched in one of the wettest summers ever on record. Parts of England have been severely flooded three times in the last two years. This is a global issue. Weather is changing.

But neither candidate in the election actually mentioned the taboo phrase ‘global warming’ at all. Even as the first winds began to blow over the eastern seaboard, no one could bring themselves to mention it, just in case they upset someone.

Global warming is happening, whatever your belief as to the causes. Failure to address the issue will only lead to more disasters, more hardship and more government bail-outs for disaster stricken areas. How many more Sandies or Katrinas can the US actually handle?

The investment required in New Orleans after Katrina was huge, but it protected the city from another disaster when Hurricane Isaac came calling in August this year. Keeping Americans safe costs money.

This means that whatever the personal ideology, or religion, of politicians, whatever their lobbyists spend and whatever they tell them to say, the American people deserve a proper, mature, well-informed debate and policy on the issue.

The costs of cleaning up are simply so huge that we must do something to reduce the likelihood of disasters like this occurring again. Remember that for people living in Jamaica and Haiti the situation was much worse than it was for the vast majority of people in the US.

Can America look its partners and neighbours in the face if we continue to fail to act rationally? How can we claim to be the champion of democracy and justice if we continue to ignore such a crucial issue, which is so important for the whole world?

People in countries such as that see our conspicuous consumption, our whining when we can’t drive our cars because the weather is slightly bad, or the wi-fi connection goes, and must think we are soft, inefficient and feeble people. We suck it all up, and spew it all out over them time and again.

Can the world’s conscience really cope if an entire island was to be devastated? America would undoubtedly play a compassionate role in helping in the case of such a disaster, but compassion can only go so far.

What is needed is for politicians of all stripes to take their heads from the sand and engage in sensible debate about what is actually happening. And debate does not mean cheap point scoring and relying on dogma which contradicts science.

It means dealing with the issues in front of us and acknowledging that they exist. Once we have done that, maybe we as a country can move forward and begin to deal with what is likely to be a huge threat to national safety and security in years to come.

Maybe then at least we can look the rest of the world in the face and say, ‘At least we tried’. Even that may not, sadly, be enough.

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