Mitt Romney deeply cares about your family, but apparently not their planet. Last Thursday night, the Republican National Convention treated voters to what can only be described as an otherworldly departure from sanity. Instead of gushing emphatically about the cars, lakes and trees he's loved, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney deadpanned about climate change, mocking rising sea levels. "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family," he yukked.
Even though an aging gunslinger, and a chair, ended up garnering a majority of the media coverage, Romney's conceit shouldn't be lost upon Gulf Coast residents still mopping up after Hurricane Isaac. Questioning the impact of climate change the night before, then pitying its victims the next day, hints at a gathering storm of Republican hypocrisy headed straight for us.
Major hurricanes, spinning at more than 110 mph, are a sight to behold, and a behemoth to clean up after. Granted, there hasn't been a single one that's come ashore in the United States since 2005, after a record Atlantic hurricane season with a total of 28 named storms claimed more than 3,900 lives, and caused about $159 billion of damage. In that year alone, no fewer than four of its seven major hurricanes (Dennis, Katrina, Rita & Wilma) ravaged our coastline.
However, to dismiss climate change as a bunch of hot air - because we've continued to dodge the bullet - fails to see for the forest the trees (which, if you're former Pres. Ronald Reagan, are spreading pollution anyways).
In an assessment report out from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific organization representing more than 120 member states of the United Nations, the last 50 years of extreme weather phenomena are intricately tied up in human-driven climate change. Changes to historical data gathering techniques did limit the ability of IPCC members to determine man's impact upon the severity of hurricanes. However, the science behind the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation incontrovertibly proved that coastal flooding, and heat waves, are worse than they were 50 years ago.
Now the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, cautions that at the rate Earth's Arctic ice sheet melts, the projected rise in sea levels could be anywhere from 2.5 to more than 6.5 feet by century's end. Combine the heightened sea levels with the fact that future hurricanes are likelier to see a higher "jumping off point," pushing them further inland before dissipating, and it's a recipe for disaster.
Traditionally stretched out across 6 million square miles, the Arctic ice sheet currently spans 1.58 million square miles - a record low - and it still hasn't stopped its seasonal melt!
Unfortunately, the latest reincarnation of the Republican Party platform appears undeterred by the Union of Concerned Scientists' long-range forecast. Rather than "Addressing Climate Change Responsibly," as it did in 2008, today's platform simply gives it the brush off. It lambastes the Obama administration's National Security Strategy for presenting "climate change" as a dire threat to the homeland, and aspires to uncap greenhouse gas regulations set forth by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
I might be several hundred miles from the nearest coastline, but I'm not so far inland to forget what Irene brought to my backyard of Upstate New York, and that of my extended family from Vermont, last year.
Should Romney be elected, I'm not predicting Waterworld. However, if he's going to exaggerate President Obama's ability to walk upon water for laughs, would a Romney administration exhibit lofty ambitions about the environment, or anything else for that matter? Mankind's capability to mitigate, and possibly counteract, the effects of climate change isn't the stuff of miracles. It's science.
Or, as Paul Ryan Gosling once said, "Hey girl, don't worry about saving the planet. Mitt says we can always get a new one."
(Flooded Graveyard image via Photobucket)