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viewpoint

Four score and seven degrees

| Monday, October 1, 2018

“Sir, my name is Ken” he says, correcting him for what must have been the fourth time in the last five minutes.

“Kent? Kent Katz, right? Am I saying that right?” President Trump asks.

No, Ken thinks. “Sure” he says. It doesn’t matter at this point. Ken doesn’t care if he knows his name or not. He just wants to ensure that The President understands the 500 page report heavily resting in his hands at the moment.

Glancing down toward his own copy, Ken anxiously asks “Mr. President, do you understand what this report is saying?”

“Yes. Seven? Seven, did you say? Good thing I’ll be long gone by then,” he chuckles, nervously.

Let me reassure any conspiracy theorists out there — no, I have not bugged the the Oval Office. I have not tapped into the President’s phone line. I wouldn’t even know where to start. So, no, this is not a conversation that actually happened between Ken Katz (from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of International Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer Standards) and Donald Trump (the President of the United States). That being said, however, it’s probably pretty close.

This imagined conversation revolves around a report the Trump Administration released in July of 2018. When it was released, the report barely made a splash. In fact, it wasn’t until Sept. 28 that the details of the report got the news media spotlight.

What was in the report? Well, surprisingly, it was a scary acknowledgement and expansion on a Trump Administration staple denial regarding climate change:

  1. Climate change is caused by human activity.
  2. There will be, with a high degree of certainty, a seven degree Fahrenheit increase (relative to the pre-industrial world) in mean global surface temperatures by 2100.
  3. Any steps taken toward further regulating the automotive industry’s fuel efficiency will be negligible in the end.

Terrific news for beach house owners — looks like peak rent season has extended all the way to mid-September. Well, that is if your house isn’t completely wiped out by a mega-hurricane (likely in a climate seven degrees warmer). Oh, and don’t forget about the shore that might not exist after 30.3 more inches added to our current sea-level. So, to all the beach house owners — don’t get too excited. You might want to look for investment opportunity elsewhere.

To contextualize a seven degree Fahrenheit increase, let’s look at the Paris Climate Agreement (which was torn up by the Trump Administration, need I remind you, in June of 2017). The stated goal of the Paris Climate Agreement was to hold rising surface temperatures to a mean of 3.6 degrees (relative to the pre-industrial world). The Trump Administration is actually claiming that, not only will we fail in achieving that goal, but we will drastically overshoot it. This would be apocalyptic.

Simply put, at this level of increase, 12.3 million Americans alone will be forced from their homes, evicted by an angry landlord beyond mercy. Food production would drastically decrease to the point of massive waves of food insecurity across the world. Weather patterns would intensify, persistently causing mass suffering, death, and migration. Water, as I tell my friends at least once a month, will become a commodity worth its weight in gold. The truth is that not even the cushy lifestyles of Americans would protect us from these brutal realities. Climate change and its implications as listed above don’t care how big your GDP is. These issues will affect everyone.

Why isn’t anything happening then? With such a clear and present danger, why can’t American officials, at the very least, admit that this change is happening? While I have my own opinions on this question (revolving around capitalism and the role of industrial politics), I think there’s an even simpler answer. The answer is one word. And it rhymes with “Reschmublicans”.

Republicans? No. It couldn’t be. Not the Grand Ol’ Party. Not Ronald Reagan’s brain child. Not the conservatives. They couldn’t possibly be to blame for the lack of initiative taken to combat these issues.

And yet, time and time again, Republicans are at the base of all climate change denial. Now, don’t confuse me —Democrats aren’t perfect either. Many of Democratic initiatives to curb climate change aren’t enough. But, once an issue has been acknowledged, there’s a huge difference between trying and not trying to solve it.

Republicans — time and time again refuse to acknowledge the issue at hand, and when they do, they refuse to try, as proven by the conclusion of this report.

Democrats — time and time again prove to be the ally of our world’s struggling climate.

Maybe we can’t avoid this imminent apocalypse. Maybe this is the bleak reality that industrial capitalism has so sleazily dished us. But, does that mean at least trying is futile? No, I refuse to admit such a thing. Does that mean we should quit? No, I refuse to quit like that.

There’s a wave coming.

It’s big.

It’s blue.

And if you too refuse to quit, then join me and hop on. Nov., 2018 is coming.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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