Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The tragic irony of the climate crisis

Reports are that things aren't going so swimmingly well at the Copenhagen climate change conference. In fact, as one NPR person put it this morning, this last round of negotiations may have created more disagreements than it solved.

Then again, maybe it is going swimmingly well, if swimming is your thing. And with basically every non-denier in agreement that sea level will rise by at least one meter during this century, a whole lot of people are going to have to either move or learn to swim.

What kills me, and what will actually kill billions of people during this century, is that we wasted eight years during the Bush administration, not fighting this problem. The Bush administration, you'll recall, did absolutely nothing about the climate crisis.

You're right. That's not true. I should give them credit for what they did, which was to make it worse. They rejected the Kyoto treaty, just for starters. Then, not content to sit idly by while the world burns, they proceeded to promote a variety of astonishingly short-sighted energy policies around coal and oil which are in fact making the problem worse.

It kills me to think of what might have been. Had Gore become President in 2000, you know damn well he'd have ratified the Kyoto treaty and pushed for adoption of its protocols in our economy. He'd have invested in clean, renewable energy instead of fighting wars for oil and advancing mountaintop-removal coal mining in the Appalachians. I can't doubt that a President Gore would have made the problem better, not worse.

Which brings me to Florida. Here is a picture of what Florida will look like when the sea has risen one meter. Miami is an island. Tens of billions of dollars worth of homes, businesses, and infrastructure will be gone. Vast stretches of inland areas will be uninhabitable due to salt-water encroachment on the land and into the water table.

The whole state, not to put too fine a point on it, looks as though it has been circumcised.

Build a dike, you say? Sorry. Geologically speaking, Florida is a giant sieve. It's mostly made of limestone, which water goes right through. Build a wall if you want to, but the sea will flow under it, right through the land, and flood you out anyway.

Still, it's hard to feel much pity for the poor Floridians, whose state is responsible for giving us President George W. Bush in the first place. That's irony for you. Tragic irony, not the faux "rain on your wedding day" irony. It is also, perhaps, ironic justice that of American states Florida stands to suffer among the most from the disastrous policies they allowed to happen.

If you own so much as a popsicle stand in Florida, sell it now while you still can.


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