If there were ever a time for alarm bells about the catastrophic consequences of climate change, this summer is the time to ring them. We need some leadership on this issue and we need it now.
Some still regard the concerns about what’s going on as hysteria, but the numbers that say we’re headed for a crisis keep coming and they get more persuasive – if not altogether alarming – every year.
After this summer’s blistering heat waves (along with other catastrophic events like those pictured above in a montage from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), some climate change skeptics are still around, but given the science and the day-to-day realities as evidence (a NASA report concludes that “Earth will continue to warm and the effects will be profound”), the American public is showing signs of accepting the notion that climate change is real and that it poses a threat to our planet.
A CBS poll last April led to a story that the network headlined “Climate change needs to be addressed … and soon, most Americans say.” Sixty-seven percent of the poll’s respondents said we should address it now or in the near future. Thirty-one percent said we should address it further into the future or (24%) not at all.
There seems to be some weather-created urgency developing and, given that the election cycle is gaining some speed, now would be a natural time for the political divisions on the subject of climate change to come to the surface. Considering that Democrats in general feel more strongly about climate change being a major threat than Republicans do, this year’s wave of extreme, record-breaking weather probably gives Dems, who, unlike Republicans, already have a substantive track record and plan of action on the subject, a natural advantage as we move into next year’s elections.
Why is that? Because Dems have the reality of some of the most miserable weather in history on their side. Not only is the weather awful, it costs the economy some serious money. That’s an issue that should get the attention of business-oriented Republicans, who probably read the grim numbers regarding the cost of this year’s heat wave in The Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago.
On a broader and more forward-looking front, a 2022 study from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago on climate change and its effects on our economy’s future concludes that every one degree increase in average temperatures will cost the U.S. economy a 0.7% decrease in GDP, with some of the worst impacts falling on our already-disadvantaged regions.