Late Tuesday, the House, after much Republican grumbling and saber-rattling, voted to approve the fiscal-cliff Band-Aid. But it will provide only temporary relief akin to letting off flatulence, when a good bowl movement is needed. The constipated battle over the debt ceiling and sequestration is expected to continue for the next two months.
Meanwhile, the brief urgency on climate change, which was spurred by Hurricane Sandy in November, seems to be fading rapidly in congressional rear-view mirrors.
This morning, it is reported that Republican infighting over a Senate-approved $60 billion dollar emergency aid package for damage caused by Hurricane Sandy is bitterly dividing the party, with many members still seething from not getting their way on fiscal cliff tax rates.
2012 set records as the warmest year in recorded history, but evidence of global warming has been increasing for years in real time, even as Republicans, boosted by high-paid climate denial lobbyists, waved it off as a liberal hoax and blocked every attempt at meaningful emissions regulation.
Recently, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, threw in the towel and announced that she wouldn’t continue in her position. The EPA has been under constant attack by radical right-wing Republicans, with some even making campaign promises to dismantle it. Republicans don’t like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, which imposes restrictions and hefty fines on businesses for air and water pollution. The GOP claims it hurts the ability of corporations to create jobs, but what it really impedes is their ability to trash the planet while making huge profits.
In the past few years, climate change has been alarmingly evident on a global scale, with increased crop-killing droughts; deadly floods caused by deluges of rain measured in feet instead of inches; wildfires fueled by invasive drought-loving weeds and the rise of tree-killing beetles; oceans full of pollutants and warming temperatures that create deadly acidification; devastating, lethal superstorms; melting glaciers and icecaps that endured for millennia until an atmosphere full of C02 turned up Earth’s thermostat.
Yes, Congress finally acted to throw a fiscal-cliff lifeline to middle class Americans, which will extend unemployment benefits, extend student tax credits and keep the payroll tax credit in place, but it took a herculean effort and a looming deadline—what happens when there is no blatant deadline to reverse the course of climate change?
It’s been said that a frog will sit in a pot of water oblivious to the rise in temperature until it boils. The fear is that Congress will do the same. It’s bad enough their partisanship and dysfunction caused a yearlong delay to act on the fiscal cliff, which impacts financial survival, but how dare they ignore an urgent problem that will affect the lives, health and economic viability of an entire global population?
Polls show that three out of four Americans believe that government is broken in this country, and the majority blame Republicans.
The Republican, Tea Party conservative, party of “no," is a disgraceful part of the problem, which has to be dragged screaming and kicking to reach any solution for the American people, much less the planet. Their familiar refrain of blaming the president for everything is starting to fall on deaf ears of weary Americans and any accusation that Obama lacks leadership should bring up consideration of how hard it is to lead against a spiteful Republican House majority.
However, Obama vowed to address climate change after his re-election, and some Republicans have come around on the reality of global warming, but the party is still very beholden to rich corporate supporters, and that is not conducive to approving emissions regulation.
If Republicans can’t bear to utter the words “global warming,” then they should replace the words with “economic disaster." Billion-dollar emergency relief packages will become commonplace and climate change impacted industries will amass unprecedented economic and agriculture losses as climate anomalies continue and the precipice looms.
If only climate change had a clear tipping point and a deadline, there could possibly be a regulation cobbled together just before going over the climate abyss, but there isn’t any indication the current Republican Party will stop the infighting and corporate pandering before irreversible damage is done.
Meanwhile, the country will be forced to watch Congress continue their wrangling on remaining fiscal issues and other prickly problems like immigration and gun violence.
See the top 20 natural disasters of 2012 here.
Jean Williams, PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.
PrairieDogPress is the media channel for keystone-prairie-dogs.com, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources.