Welcome to another edition of our Sunday Climate Round-up, this time named after Mike Huckabee's go-to "hot take" on how terrorism is scarier than...a sunburn, which is what absolutely no one who is discussing climate change is seriously talking about, ever. But I'll bite, because I've hit this one before, poll your friends and neighbors and see who can admit to having had a really terrible sunburn. Go on to see how many of them have had a skin lesion looked at or removed.
Now think about how many of your friends and neighbors have been beheaded. Statistically, it is way more likely for a US American that everyone you know has had sunburn, and a few of them have had something suspicious scraped. Skin cancer is pretty scary. But you are less likely to know someone who was beheaded by terrorists--which isn't to minimize the threat of terror at all, only to put it in perspective.
Now since the actual perils of climate change are sea level rises that can seriously impair our infrastructure in coastal cities and cause the internal migration of thousands if not millions, that's an issue. We have coral bleaching events and ocean acidification, which contribute to the collapse of oceanic ecosystems and impair the abundance of species many cultures have traditionally depended on for food.
Food scarcity is going to be a big problem with climate change (and scarier than a sunburn, Mike Huckabee should admit). Agricultural failure and rising food costs contribute to economic and political instability. Not being aware of this basic problem (remember the bread riots in France, and consider that food and climate stressors are likely at cause for Libya and Egyptian revolts, and most certainly were for Tunisia) is like being completely unqualified to discuss either climate change or terrorism or foreign policy or public policy or any damn thing else.
Which is not to pick on poor old Mike Huckabee, who has had the kind of week on Twitter that could have generated dozens of posts for me. It's to say that the entire Republican party has become glib about a real world issue that needs to be seriously addressed, that they can find no seriousness about. Donald Trump just recently suggested we should eliminate the EPA because we would be just fine without it. I'm not that sure that Trump, or other candidates who have discussed eliminating the EPA, are certain what they do. In the real world where I live, I would strengthen the hell out of the EPA so they could do the things that they do better. (Well, yeah I'd probably make Bill McKibben my EPA secretary if I was president, so there's me). But can clean air, clean water, safe food, mean so little to some folks running for president that we'd blow up an agency that could be better put to those uses? Why aren't Republicans more informed and capable of discussing this vital topic-and also offering good solutions?
It seems like a pander to fossil fuel companies and an unwillingness to appreciate the need for change to adapt to emergent problems. And while "slow change" is a conservative value, sometimes it just isn't what the situation calls for. We need people with vision, not people with blinders on. I'm pleased that the Democratic frontrunners appreciate the seriousness of the questions posed by climate change, and seem capable of addressing them.