Toxic Denial of Climate Change Reality as Planet Hangs in the Balance

Science Is Settled — Politics Blocks Meaningful Action

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By J.J. Goldberg

Published February 09, 2014, issue of February 14, 2014.
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Environmentalists sometimes accuse conservatives of turning a blind eye to the extreme weather battering the country lately, because of disagreements over global warming.

That’s unfair. Despite political squabbling, some bold initiatives are emerging. On February 1, seeking to end the crippling drought that’s produced federal disaster areas in 11 Western states, faith leaders from across the religious spectrum, including imams, rabbis and Buddhist priests, met in a Mormon church outside Reno, Nevada, and prayed for rain. Like I said, bold action.

The following day, the Utah Farm Bureau Federation called for public fasting and prayer for rain. “We decided to go to the guy upstairs,” Utah dairy farmer Ron Gibson told the Deseret News.

That might sound like a long shot, but you never know. On January 11, Morocco’s King Mohammed V asked his country’s Jewish community to help fight drought by praying for rain, a day after the nation’s mosques did so. On January 17, MoroccoWorldNews.com reported thundershowers across the country’s south.

In Israel, suffering its driest winter on record, the country’s chief rabbis issued a call December 4 for daily recital of the traditional Simhat Torah prayer for rain. A week later the country was brought to a standstill by the heaviest snowstorm in at least a half-century. The chief rabbis quickly told the public to stop praying for rain and commence prayers of thanksgiving.

The drought promptly returned, but still.

Prayers aren’t the right’s only response. House Republicans introduced an emergency bill February 4 to suspend environmental regulations in California in order to divert water from the protected Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the agriculturally and politically crucial Central Valley. The bill is opposed by California Democrats and will likely die in the Senate. Republicans are frustrated.

“If you don’t like the bill we send, then tell us what you do support,” House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, from Bakersfield in the Central Valley, told a February 4 press conference.

Actually, that’s easy. There are reasons for the drought. Democrats want to fix them. Republicans don’t.

Bakersfield, Tel Aviv and Casablanca have something in common that helps explain the shared drought. They all sit on the west coast of a major continental land mass, all at roughly the same latitude, all in what’s called a Mediterranean climate zone.

And lately, they’re all on the wrong side of that pesky bulge in the Polar Jet Stream that’s wreaking havoc across the northern hemisphere, bringing frigid temperatures to most of the United States, weeks of monster rain and flooding in Britain and historic snowstorms across central Asia from Iran to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.


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