It’s Been Global Warming, Stupid

Reflections on steroid-storm Sandy, Bloomberg’s surprising endorsement of Obama, and the best magazine cover of the year.

The remnants of a roller coaster sit in the surf after Hurricane Sandy came ashore in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. (Photo: Steve Nesius/Reuters)

Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

The web was abuzz yesterday with Bloomberg Businessweek’s big, bad, bold declaration: It’s Global Warming, Stupid.

Citing sobering Frankenstorm Sandy statistics—$50 billion in estimated damages, millions without power, hundreds of thousands evacuees, and at least 75 deaths—the piece rightly declared that Sandy “demands” that America finally get serious on climate change, the single greatest crisis of our—and probably our great-granchildren’s—times.

I’d have made one minor edit to the James Carville-inspired whopper of a title—the insertion of the word “been.”

It’s Global Warming, Stupid?

No, no.

It’s Been Global Warming, Stupid.

MORE: Hurricane Sandy Recovery: How to Help

It’s Been Global Warming, Stupid...since two weeks ago when a study linked both the frequency and intensity of tropical storms. In other words, get ready for bigger, badder, more frequently occurring storms.

It’s Been Global Warming, Stupid…since late August, when infamous climate-denying scientist Richard Muller underwent a "total turnaround" on global warming and finally admited that it is caused by human activity.

It’s Been Global Warming, Stupid…since the hottest month ever recorded, July 2012, when the worst drought since the 1950s spread across a majority of the continental United States.

I could go on and on, receding deeper and deeper into the ghosts of climate past, but what’s the point?

I don’t need to.

The science of global warming isn’t a fair knife fight.

In the climate-denying corner, there stands a smattering of pseudo-scientists, charlatans propped up by the limitless coffers of the oil lobby.

In the other corner, stand 97 percent of active, peer-reviewed climatologists, who contend that global warming is both occurring and caused by mankind. Just so we’re absolutely crystal clear here, folks, not nine, not seven, but 97 percent of the professionals who study this stuff day in and day out say it’s real!

There doesn’t seem to even be any debate in the court of public opinion, either, with 74 percent of Americans now believing that global warming contributes to extreme weather.

The only Americans that can’t quite seem to understand the gravity of the problem are politicians.

On the Right, there’s the 2012 Model of Mitt Romney.

(Let’s assume for the sake of argument that a marauding gang of Tea Partiers locked Romney Model 2003, the centrist governor that supported a regional greenhouse gas initiative, into his flip-flopping closet and then burned the key in a hot vat of bubbling crude oil.)

If Romney's not proffering a wan smile at the mention of climate change at a rally yesterday, he's mocking global warming at the Republican National Convention.

Other politicans hold options that are prodigously worse for the planet.

The climate views held by Romney’s GOP primary opponents all seemed to metastasize in the same anti-science Petri dish—from "patently absurd" (Santorum), to "contrived phony mess” (Perry), to "vodoo" (Bachmann). And then there's the GOP Congressmen who blame global warming on dinosar flatulence or rain dances

If 97 percent of oncologists informed Romney that one of his 18 grandchildren had an operable tumor, don’t you think the data-driven governor would shatter the land-speed record in racing that child to the front of the surgical line? Why should the diagnosis by climatologists of the planet his grandchildren will inherit be handled any differently?

President Obama stands on the other side of the political aisle. He's signed forward-thinking fuel-efficiency standards and his EPA has successfully tightened the noose around the dirtiest of our aging coal-fired power plants.

But those, you'll agree, are small bore solutions, something akin to re-arranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. What needed to happen didn’t. Obama should have thrown the weight of his bully pulpit behind the cap and trade bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2009. He didn't. He chose healthcare instead and has been mostly mum on climate change ever since, despite an April 2012 assertion in Rolling Stone that "I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way."

But at least the President acknowledges the severity and the urgency of the problem. If he’s re-elected, there's at least a puncher's chance he'd rally the troops and pursue legislation that included some version of cap and trade or a carbon tax.

This is largely why he earned a surprising endorsement from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, along with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, saw firsthand this week what happens when Mother Nature rears back, winds up, and brings down her hammer.

The oily fingerprints of climate change are all over steroidstorms like Sandy. And they'll continue to be unless we act. The first opportunity is this Tuesday, November 6. 

Of the two candidates whose names appear on the ballot for the most important job on the planet, only one hasn't buried his head in the sand on the Sandy that just buried the Big Apple.

What role, if any, will climate change and Hurricane Sandy play in your vote for President? Tell us in the comments below.

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