Wednesday, May 14, 2014


As I noted a couple of weeks ago, all of North Carolina's Republican senatorial candidates (now sifted down to one actual candidate, Tom Tillis, running to unseat our current Democratic senator, Kay Hagan), stated unequivocally and with derisive chortles that global climate change is a hoax. I believe that among Mr. Tillis's legislative achievements was a successful effort to thwart long-term planning concerning the possibility that sea level rise could have enormous effects on life as we know it and live it today here in the Old North State.

As this vast portion of Antarctica melts over the next few decades, causing a rise in sea level of up to ten feet, many of our major coastal cities will lose large amounts of very expensive real estate, displacing thousands of citizens in the process. It doesn't take much imagination to realize that sea level rise will not only be a matter of gradual inches, such as we watch when we fill the bath tub, but will be expressed as well in catastrophic storm surges coming with relatively unpredictable super storms, such as we saw a couple of years ago in Hurricane Sandy.

The complexity that is our atmosphere and climate contains many interlocking systems. Big fires in, for example, Australia and our American west, deposit tons of soot on distant glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This layer of soot in turn holds more solar energy than a formerly whiter ice face, thus causing more melting. As temperatures rise in central Australia, hot winds blow more rapidly across Antarctic barrens, and are particularly focused by canyons and mountains to work on the particular glacier now melting to eventual extinction. So it goes.

There is no doubt that any effort to change the world's energy economy in a direction away from continued use of fossil fuels will ultimately affect the total wealth of corporations and people who are engaged in that economy. There is thus no doubt at all, and greatly ironic, that the most fervent believers in the process of global climate change now underway are people like the Koch brothers, who possess a wealth based on the continued use of fossil fuels.

This is why they continue to spend millions of dollars of their own wealth to defeat any effort to affect the course of the current world energy economy. The Kochs would spend absolutely nothing on a mere academic exercise. They didn't get rich by being altruistic. Their own fortunes, and perhaps even more important to them, their almost unlimited power of action, is what they are spending their money to protect. And what they get for their money is one of the major American political parties now maintaining, as a matter of party doctrine, that global climate change is a falsehood. And the result of this doctrine is Congressional inaction, which protects fossil fuel economic interests.

This was Coney Island the night Hurricane Sandy came by to visit. Even a committed Republican like Chris Christie had a brief change of heart on the issue of climate change while he slogged through the water and surveyed the damage, and begged a President his party despised for a little immediate help. All that has of course dissipated now, and Christie toes to doctrine just as much as the rest.

It would be nice to see Republican dreams of a complete take-over of Congress unrealized. Nothing is going to change the rise in sea level already set in motion, but it's always better to know what's going on.

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