The title of Paul Krugman's column today was "Who Cooked the Planet?" And the answer is we all did.
There was a bill before the Senate this year that would have allowed us as a society to start work on reversing the effects of human-caused global climate change. It certainly was not a perfect bill. That doesn't exist in our world. But it would have encouraged the transition to "greener" forms of energy and changed some of the ways in which we continually subsidize dirty forms of energy like oil and coal. It looked like this might be the year when something finally got done on these issues.
As usual, the House did its work and waited for the Senate to join it at the finish line. And waited. And waited. And waited. In the end, the Senate declined to even get out of the starting gate.
It's the same old story we have heard so often in this session of Congress. The Republicans - 100% of them - refused to support the bill. The Democrats, including the President, refused to fight for the bill and some of them outright opposed it. And where do you suppose those senators who delayed, opposed and finally killed the bill get the majority of their campaign contributions? If you said Big Oil and Big Coal, you win the prize.
Meantime, Big Oil and Big Coal spent millions, perhaps even billions, in advertising campaigns to convince the public that the bill was not needed. Did you hear an outcry from the public this spring and summer about how it was time to act on climate change and our dependence on foreign energy sources? You did not. Even with the heat wave burning up the Northeast and the spewing oil turning the Gulf waters into sludge, the public has not demanded action on this issue.
Why? Do people really not see what is happening to the earth, or do they just not care? I think it may be a bit of both. They are confused and their perspective is clouded by the constant shouting of the deniers. It takes effort to get off your duff and actually wade through the dross of information out there to get to the truth. And it's just to hot for all that work.
Perhaps some day when the coasts are inundated by the extra water from melting glaciers and the summers are ten degrees hotter on average, not just in the Northeast but right across the country - perhaps then we will emerge from our malaise and try to do something about it. But then it will be too late. Maybe it already is.