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Organic Consumers Association

No More Magical Thinking: Obama And Climate Change

Brothers and sisters: Before we open our hymnals and sing the many grim verses of “Now Cometh the Hard Part,” the quadrennial post-Election Day dirge, the congregation is kindly requested to indulge in a brief interlude of soul-replenishing joy. Go ahead. Relax those shoulders. Breathe. Linger a while over the night of Tuesday, November 6th. Congratulate the President on his reëlection. Play a clip of his stirring acceptance speech. Watch his handsome family waving to the jubilant crowd. Wave back. Replay in your mind, just for fun, the moment when Fox News’s Megyn Kelly rebuked Karl Rove for his refusal to accept the verdict in Ohio (“Is this just the math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?”), before making her long trek to the reality-based precincts of the Decision Desk. Send a thank-you note to Bill Clinton, to the determined, foot-sore voters of south Florida, and—what the hell—to Chris Christie. Finally, bid a fond farewell to some of the gargoyles who have haunted your sleep in these many months of incessant cable-gazing, Web-cruising, and poll-checking. See ya later, Brothers Koch! Shalom, Sheldon Adelson! Get a new slide rule, George Gallup and Scott Rasmussen! Hasta la vista, Tea Party! Ciao for now, Donald Trump! Feel better? Good, because the celebration is officially over.

Barack Obama can take pride in having fought off a formidable array of deep-pocketed revanchists. As President, however, he is faced with an infinitely larger challenge, one that went unmentioned in the debates but that poses a graver threat than any “fiscal cliff.” Ever since 1988, when NASA’s James Hansen, a leading climate scientist, testified before the Senate, the public has been exposed to the issue of global warming. More recently, the consequences have come into painfully sharp focus. In 2010, the Pentagon declared, in its Quadrennial Defense Review, that changes in the global climate are increasing the frequency and the intensity of cyclones, droughts, floods, and other radical weather events, and that the effects may destabilize governments; spark mass migrations, famine, and pandemics; and prompt military conflict in particularly vulnerable areas of the world, including the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The Pentagon, that bastion of woolly radicals, did what the many denialists in the House of Representatives refuse to do: accept the basic science.


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