The Times provides a comprehensive reminder that when people say “global warming will have us at ‘X’ by 2100,” the problems start today.
There’s not much to say about the wide-ranging and comprehensive New York Times Sunday piece about how rising oceans are already impacting communities on the East Coast, which are seeing more disruptive floods, other than that you should read it. You should read it because it is gripping, because it doesn’t pussyfoot around the issue, and because it highlights how we’re increasingly going to live.
I for one always take slight comfort when I read “temperatures will be 5 degrees higher by 2100”, or “the seas will rise four feet by 2075”, because I’m pretty sure I’ll be dead. That isn’t to say I’m fine with it, just a slight relief that mortality will spare me the worst impact of the unprecedented shortsighted stupidity that seems like it came hand-in-hand with our unprecedented intelligence.
But that’s silly: the seas are of course already rising along with the temps. Slowly, and then seemingly all at once, we’re going to be dealing with its impacts. Coastal communities are already spending millions, and maybe billions, on sea walls, new drainage systems, and huge gates. That’s the way it is going to go from here on out. We’ll have to spend incredible amounts to beat back the ocean, at least where we can, and pull back where it is impossible. It’ll change America, and every other country with a coast.
Maybe the seas won’t rise as much as the worst projections; maybe we’ll pull back from the absolute brink. Maybe the climate accords, agreed to again this week by the US and China (who don’t agree on anything else), will help us to avoid a comprehensive disaster. But let’s not chippy around and kid ourselves: the damage has been done. Mitigating the worst doesn’t mean avoiding consequences altogether. This is how we live now.
And, it goes without saying, the problem is made worse because one political party is incapable of admitting that there is a problem, is full of wild paranoia and insane conspiracies, and shows no sign of changing. As the Times says, “A Republican congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck, recently called one military proposal part of a “’radical climate change agenda.’”
Yup. What was that proposal? And how did Buck react?
Several studies have concluded that Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base, is profoundly threatened by rising seas, as are other coastal bases. The Pentagon has managed to build floodgates and other protective measures at some facilities. But attempts by the military to develop broader climate change plans have met fierce resistance in Congress.
That was the case this summer, when an effort by the Pentagon to appoint officers to take charge of climate resilience led to a House vote prohibiting taxpayer money from being spent on the plan.
“When we distract our military with a radical climate change agenda, we detract from their main purpose of defending America from enemies” like the Islamic State,said Mr. Buck of Colorado, the Republican congressman who sponsored the measure. His amendment passed the House 216 to 205, though the Senate has yet to agree to it.
Yup, the hallowed military, those who can do no wrong, are part of the conspiracy. Buck is denying them the ability to protect one of their own bases, and thinks it is a distracting lie. This is how crazy these people are. When confronted with believing the military, whose infallible goodness is one of the pillars of right-wing belief, Buck chooses his insane denial. In a real way, the fate of the nation and the fate of human civilization is in the hands of people like these.
(I was hoping to find a juicily hypocritical Buck quote about Colin Kaepernick disrespecting the troops, but couldn’t. Given that he introduced a “Blue Lives Matter” resolution into Congress, I’m going to guess he’s anti-Colin.)