Climate change has been dismissed as more or less irrelevant by politicians in the USA for far too long. The Kyoto Treaty, drawn up in Japan in 1997 aimed to commit industrialised nations to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, by around 5.2% below their 1990 levels over the next decade. The agreement needed to be ratified by countries who were responsible for at least 55% of the world's carbon emissions in 1990 to come into force. President George W Bush, in March 2001 announced that the United States would never sign it. That was when my hackles, from their then location in England, were raised against The Powers That Be in this country.
When I first arrived in the USA at the end of 2004, global warming was looked on as something of a joke here. I despaired; but then I was around to see the enormous difference Al Gore single-handedly brought about. When "An Inconvenient Truth" arrived in cinemas in Oklahoma, it was shown only in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We travelled to Oklahoma City to see it. The number of people in the theatre could have been counted on two hands, but, as the movie ended that sparse audience rose to their feet as one, applauded, and uplifted my hopes. But they have since proved to have been forlorn hopes. The US administration has been dragging its feet ever since, right up to this 2012 presidential election cycle when neither of the two main candidates has deigned to discuss the issue in debate or campaign speech.
"The struggle to save the global environment is in one way much more difficult than the struggle to vanquish Hitler, for this time the war is with ourselves. We are the enemy, just as we have only ourselves as allies. In a war such as this, then, what is victory and how will we recognize it?" (Al Gore)From Hurricane Sandy as Greek Tragedy by Mark Hertsgaard, at Common Dreams:
Sandy is short for Cassandra, the Greek mythological figure who epitomizes tragedy. The gods gave Cassandra the gift of prophecy; depending on which version of the story one prefers, she could either see or smell the future. But with this gift also came a curse: Cassandra’s warnings about future disasters were fated to be ignored. That is the essence of this tragedy: to know that a given course of action will lead to disaster but to pursue it nevertheless.My logical pain-in-the-arse Aquarian mind tells me: "What's the use of worrying? Without the right people in charge of the USA, nothing will change on a large enough scale to make a difference, and in any case, it is now likely to be too late to make enough of a difference anyway." Yet the other side of me still sees the benefit of The Powers that Be at least trying to do something - to be pro-active instead of re-active, to treat climate change with the seriousness it deserves; to put the resources being currently wasted in military force around the world and on immoral drone attacks into a determined fight against this real and very, very obvious global danger.
And so it has been with America’s response to climate change. For more than twenty years, scientists and others have been warning that global warming, if left unaddressed, would bring a catastrophic increase in extreme weather—summers like that of 2012, when the United States endured the hottest July on record and the worst drought in fifty years, mega-storms like the one now punishing the East Coast.
We may not yet have quite reached the stage of being uncertain about the morrow, but those who come after will have that to face, if we don't insist on something being done by our US government, and all world governments - and soon.
A few pics from our trip, from my own camera. I've left them smallish but clicking on them should bring up a big version. We drove on highways and dirt roads - amazed at the miles and miles of dense forest, probably areas where no human feet have trod (maybe some Native American feet, long ago). We visited Van Buren, Fort Smith, Fayetteville and some smaller towns. This north-western area of Arkansas is beautiful, the people are really "laid back", and just as friendly as Okies.