H for Harvey, I for Irma, C for climate change

Eric Berger is a staff writer for the St. Louis Jewish Light. 

BY ERIC BERGER, Staff Writer

As we descend down the alphabet this hurricane season — Harvey, Irma — it seems like one letter is still being left out: C, as in climate change.

Despite the fact that there is scientific consensus that warmer water and air make for more intense storms, President Donald Trump’s administration and Republican leaders deny that human activity is to blame for the changing climate.

But here’s where the real problem lies: even among Democrats, there seems to be a we’ll-worry-about-it-tomorrow type attitude.

Sixty-six percent of Democrats worry “a great deal” about global warming or climate change, but 41 percent do not expect “global warming to ever be a threat to them or their way of life in their lifetime,” according to Gallup poll taken earlier this year.

Well, ask residents along the Gulf of Mexico or in the Caribbean how much time they now spend thinking about the weather.

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Climate change has to become the issue. Democrats and others were outraged when Trump did not condemn the white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va.

People who are concerned about climate change now need to apply that same level of intensity to protests over Trump’s decisions to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and strip away Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Take the current amount of energy devoted to addressing climate change and elevate it to a Category 5. Then we might be getting somewhere.

You might say, why can’t we worry about climate change and the federal government’s treatment of minority groups and health care and North Korea?

In theory, we can, and should. But in practice, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

I didn’t hear much uproar over the fact that moderators during the recent presidential debates did not ask a single question about climate change. Not one. And why would they?

Climate change ranked seventh among issues that Democrats considered extremely important in their vote for president, according to a 2016 Gallup poll. And it was hardly on the radar for Republicans.

I think that’s because it was harder for people to have a personal concern for the environment than it was for how a repeal of the Affordable Care Act might affect their families, friends or colleagues. Climate change was more ambiguous than other issues.

Until now.

We can clearly see how hurricanes Harvey and Irma destroyed people’s lives, as reported by The New York Times: “Shivering from hypothermia, little Jordyn Grace was clutching her mother’s unresponsive body as the floodwaters rose around her. A rescue team in a Zodiac boat, on the lookout for those in distress in Beaumont, Texas, spotted the small pink backpack the girl was wearing and pulled her and her mother aboard. ‘Mama was saying her prayers,’ the 3-year-old, recovering on Wednesday in a Beaumont hospital, told a relative, Antionette Logan, 38.”

And in the Caribbean, 38 have been killed and homes on many of the islands destroyed by Irma, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

As we look at the effects of these storms from afar, it can’t just be a matter of donating money and supplies – righteous causes, of course – and then hopping back into our gas-guzzling SUVs.

These storms have to be game-changers. It does not matter what progress Democrats make in other parts of life if parts of the planet become uninhabitable because of our inaction in reducing carbon emissions.

If we let this moment pass, then we are effectively saying that we are OK with whatever happens to the Earth. We cannot just let another year go by and return to the start of the alphabet. 

As in A, for acceptance.