About 7 years ago I found myself in the woods surrounded by folks who loved the woods and outdoors but collectively hung Al Gore in verbal effigy on his Inconvenient Truth. One man was talking about his recent visit to Alaska, and he relayed how a Native there told him there was no change in the glaciers.
This occurred to me a couple months ago as I stood in front of Mendenhall Glacier outside Juneau, Alaska. For the record, according to a HuffPost article late last year, what I saw had been retreating by around 170 feet a year, on average, since 2005. In fact, the US Geological Survey reported in 2008 that most of Alaska’s glaciers were thinning, retreated or both. This is our Achilles heel: the ability to suspend whatever information is not politically expedient, even if it’s to our detriment.
Chris Cillizza of The Fix outlines what he believes to be the “5 takeaways from President Obama’s SOTU“, which leads with the President focussing his actions more upon the powers that allow him to do so without congressional approval.
I think everyone–including myself–is a big fan of the “the son of a barkeep” comment. For my part, I see the barkeep vocation as more sacred than the ministry …definitely more so than that of politician.
But whatever other holy commission there may be for anyone in government, there is nothing more fundamental than Locke’s basic principle that the public has suspended certain freedoms in exchange for basic safety. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: once we’ve secured the basic requirements of life, we seek to secure those things for ourself and our posterity.
Which brings us to the fact that just this last week NOAA’s report said the “average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for December 2013 was the third highest for December since records began in 1880”. And the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research released a report this month that stated “[a]gricultural prices could be about 25 percent higher in 2050 through direct climate impacts on crop yields…” (click here).
Our government is failing to protect the most basic needs of ours and our children’s lives.
Obama’s SOTU could be seen as hope for those of us who recognize this. If we’re to believe what he tells us then like Ryan Cooper we can hope for “strong action on climate” that is presidential and long overdue.