This has been a terrible and tragic summer for climate change. Given the double-barreled dose of warming-fueled catastrophe that struck the US in just two weeks–Hurricane Harvey followed by Hurricane Irma–by all rights, the deniers should be cowed into eternal silence by now. But they’re not. In this angry but sobering article, The Mad Sociologist examines the terrible consequences of denialism even in the face of incontrovertible evidence. Climate change is now a full-bore emergency (as if it wasn’t before?) and we must come to terms with that. Some still refuse to face facts.
Rush Limbaugh continues to be the quintessential walking metaphor for right-wing blather. It’s pretty impressive that the foul wind spewing from his mouth made news even before Irma’s impressive winds kissed our shores. Specifically, Limbaugh has been a global warming denier for his entire career. As Irma approached Florida as a Category 5 hurricane, Limbaugh admonished the left for sowing panic in order to further its nefarious global warming agenda. As evidence, he pointed out how difficult it was to get water when Irma was still days away from landfall. Regardless of his skepticism and cynicism, when the time came, and the projections showed Irma driving up I-95 through the radio host’s backyard, he hightailed it out.
And make no mistake, he was right to do so. Irma was pretty scary. Turns out that the storm track moved west. My family and I, having decided to stay home when it appeared that Irma was going to Limbaugh’s house, found it difficult to leave when it was clear that the Cat 5 menace had shifted its track to Southwest Florida. Marco Island/Naples absorbed the brunt of Irma’s full force. My home, further north, suffered through Category 3 winds, though we avoided the more dangerous surge. We got hammered pretty good.
What didn’t happen, however, was the panic that Rush Limbaugh insisted was being whipped into a froth by the agenda¹ driven Left. If it was the Left’s goal to create panic, the scheme was a dismal failure. Yes, people bought a lot of water, and maybe they could have just filled a bunch of bottles from their tap. Whatever. This hardly constitutes a panic. Instead, what we saw was individuals and communities taking responsibility to prepare for a major storm as best as they could. The day before Irma was to make landfall my wife and I walked around our neighborhood and were pleasantly surprised at how thoroughly our community prepared, even as many people evacuated for fear of a surge. Windows were boarded, loose items were sheltered or strapped down. When Irma struck, there was very little debris flying around my neighborhood other than the usual shorn tree limbs and roofing tiles. Because of this preparedness, property damage was kept to a minimum, and nobody in my community was hurt.
Like Limbaugh, people took the information provided by scientists to help them plan and prepare for the possibility of disaster. Like many families, mine tuned in to the local meteorologists and online sources and paid careful attention to what they told us. By doing so we maximised our potential to weather the storm with the least harm and destruction. A week later, our life is largely back to normal for us. Many nearby communities are still struggling and cleaning up, but things could have been much, much worse had we not heeded the warnings of our scientifically trained experts sharing with us their scientifically gleaned information.
So, the larger story is more metaphorical. One can be skeptical of and deny reality as described by science for only so long. Reality, however, eventually asserts itself in such a way that it can no longer be denied. Rush Limbaugh could deride the left for panic mongering all he wanted while he was safe and sound, days away from disaster and selling airtime to his advertisers. At some point, though, even Limbaugh had to accept the scientific reality that he was in danger. Even Limbaugh had to make decisions to secure his property and his family. The same can and must be said for global climate change. We are no longer living in a world where it is reasonable to deny the reality of Global Warming.
The same can and must be said for Global Warming. We are no longer living in a world where it is reasonable to deny the reality of Global Warming and consequent climate change. It is also no longer reasonable to deny humanity’s role in causing climate change by using our atmosphere as a cesspool for carbon waste.
But The Right and their corporate allies will insist that we continue to bury our heads in the sand and continue on a course that is destructive fall all in the long run, but lucrative for some in the short term. It is true that environmentalists use natural disasters like Irma and Harvey to highlight the importance of addressing climate change. Doing so is, unfortunately, necessary in order to speak over the incessant howling of the Rush Limbaugh’s screaming “left-wing agenda!” “Panic instigators!” They and their corporatist cronies who would have us close our eyes to the obvious…
Full Article: Harvey, Irma and The Panic that Never Happened