Climate Change Gives Reason To Vote

Republicans' Do-Nothing Approach Would Slam Planet

Reason To Vote: Climate change is already turning swaths of the world into wasteland. If that isn’t reason enough to vote in 2012, what is?
getty images
Reason To Vote: Climate change is already turning swaths of the world into wasteland. If that isn’t reason enough to vote in 2012, what is?

By J.J. Goldberg

Published December 23, 2011, issue of December 30, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

We’re the world’s biggest economy and still the biggest carbon dioxide emitter. Without us, the most ambitious global plans will fail. To most of the world’s scientists and leaders, the planet is barreling toward disaster and America is preventing a rescue plan. And that’s without counting methane.

The last major international plan, adopted in Kyoto in 1997, committed the 40 richest nations to voluntary carbon reduction targets through 2012. Thirty-nine agreed and got to work. Guess who refused.

What would disaster look like? No need to guess: It’s already begun. The last few years have seen a sharp increase in severe weather — droughts, flooding, unusually intense hurricanes and tornadoes — that scientists are 90% certain results from man-made climate change. Island nations are slowly succumbing to rising sea levels. Tropical diseases are migrating north into populous temperate zones. Vast regions of Africa are turning arid, bringing mass starvation. A cover story in Newsweek last May looked at how American cities and counties were preparing for the changes underway: retrofitting roads and sewage systems to escape rising seas, helping farmers find new crops for warmer climates and changed growing seasons, coping with unfamiliar pests moving into new habitats, even moving entire shore communities inland. The feds aren’t dealing with it because Congress doesn’t believe in it, so it’s up to the counties.

The convoluted agreement adopted in Durban bears mute testimony to the world’s Washington problem. If Democrats regain the House next November, global rescue plans shift into high gear. If Republicans capture the White House, watch for a run on penicillin and scuba gear.

It’s going to be a close election. The result will likely hinge on a few thousand votes in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. And that’s what troubled me walking home from Shabbat dinner: If this is what they’re saying about Obama on the Upper West Side, what are they saying in Boca Raton? Remember, we’re only talking about a few thousand votes.

Lovers of Israel often say we should worry about our own problems and let the world look after itself. Usually that has some logic. Right now, though, the world is our problem.

Contact J.J. Goldberg at goldberg@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.