American politicians have the attention span of a gnat. Consider the silence and inaction on global warming.
In 2006, Al Gore stunned the nation with the release of the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and proof of the disastrous consequences of climate change. Immediately, there were demands for bold action by the White House and Congress to save the planet.
Climate change, in fact, was the one major issue on which both presidential candidates agreed in 2008. Barack Obama pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050; John McCain proposed cutting them by 65 percent. McCain even called global warming a “national security issue.”
But today, six years after Gore’s film, climate change has disappeared as an issue. And things have only gotten worse. With glaciers all but gone, ice caps melting and sea levels rising, we may, in fact, have already reached the point of no return. Yet, in the last four years, not one significant piece of climate-change legislation has been debated in the Congress. In January 2011, a frustrated Carol Browner, director of President Obama’s Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, resigned her post. No successor was named, and Congress has since eliminated all funding for the position.
Ironically, the only one making noise about climate change today is anti-global warming zealot Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who claims, in his book “The Greatest Hoax,” that the Bible tells us God created the earth, God will take care of it, and we don’t have to worry about mucking it up. In an interview with the Voice of Christian Youth America, Inhofe said he draws his policy on climate change from Genesis 8:22: “As long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” “My point is,” Inhofe explained, “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
As most biblical scholars will tell you, Inhofe missed the entire point of Genesis, which is that, after God created the earth, it’s now up to us to be good stewards of the planet. That clearly is the message of Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
But there’s more and more alarming evidence today that we’re neglecting our job as good and faithful stewards. Consider: It’s been reported that the Pacific island nation of Kiribati is making plans to relocate all 103,000 of its citizens to Fiji. Why? Because rising sea levels due to climate change could likely overtake the entire island.
And that’s not just some tropical phenomenon. As reported by the New York Times this week, about 3.7 million Americans now live at risk from severe coastal flooding over the next decades. Residents in low-lying areas of Florida, California, New York, Louisiana, New Jersey, Maryland and other states – including highly commercialized and profitable neighborhoods of major cities – face the very real threat of flooding and loss of property. In fact, researchers from the nonprofit organization Climate Central report that virtually the entire American coastline is at some degree of risk.
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, from Montana to Florida, hundreds of temperature records have been broken in recent days as warm weather engulfs the nation. On Wednesday, Chicago reported a high of 81 degrees – 35 degrees above normal. Traverse City, Mich., also enjoyed a temperature of 81 – 42 degrees above normal. Nationwide, since Sunday, March 11, 943 new record highs were broken, compared to just 9 record lows.
Here in Washington, people are walking around in shorts and T-shirts fit for summer. Yet, officially, it’s not even spring. And according to Andrew Freedman of Climate Central, it’s all related to global warming: “In a long-term trend that has been linked to global climate change, daily record-high temperatures have recently been outpacing daily record-lows by an average of 2-1, and this imbalance is expected to grow as the climate continues to warm.”
It’s the most serious problem facing the planet, but what are politicians talking about? Rick Santorum wants to ban contraception. Newt Gingrich wants to abolish the EPA. And Mitt Romney wants to end all funding for Big Bird.
No wonder there’s no time for global warming. We have more important issues to worry about.