- The denial of global climate change is longer simply a manifestation of ignorance and the denial of science; there are severe real-world consequences of not preparing for or trying to address the process of global climate change. Irene is a taste of what is to come in the coming years.
- The refusal by many GOP politicians to allocate disaster relief funds to help those harmed by the storm illustrates just what the right wing's world would look like given half a chance to create it.
The subject of global climate change is only a political issue in the USA, where an entire political party has dedicated themselves to obfuscate and politicize the issue. The Republicans either don't believe in the existence of global climate change because of religious beliefs, or are paid enough by the oil companies not to see the obvious. Regardless of the reason, simply refusing to believe in an unnatural disaster doesn't mitigate the consequences of it when it arrives. Global climate change will lead to increased volatility of weather patterns as a function of a climate shift. More powerful hurricanes such as Katrina or Irene coupled with extreme weather conditions such as the Joplin tornadoes will continue to plague the country with increasing frequency as the process of global climate change advances. Whether or not an entire segment of the political landscape believes in the process or not, all of us will experience the effects of global climate change. The ignorance of a few will prevent us from preparing for future disasters and by the time that the ignorant come to their senses, the damage could already be done.
At this point it is essentially impossible to completely revert the coming climate shift, but we can stop adding to the problem in order to mitigate the severity of the shift. Non-believers will always go back to the "natural cycle" of climate in order to argue against the existence of man made climate change. It is true that the world climate has a natural cycle of warming and cooling but, as shown by all legitimate research on the subject, the current shift has been artificially precipitated by human use of fossil fuels and is far more extreme than the previous natural shifts. Humans have essentially pushed the natural cycle of climate change from merry-go-round speeds to roller coaster speeds; in both situations the ride goes up and down but the speed and elevation changes are much higher on the roller coaster than on the merry-go-round. Hurricane Irene was unavoidable, but we do have the power to prevent several Irene power hurricanes per year in the future by addressing global climate change.
In the past year there have been several natural disasters which have damaged large amounts of property and killed several dozen people; the most notable of these disasters are: the southern wildfires, the Joplin tornadoes, the east coast earthquake, and hurricane Irene. All of the recent disasters left extreme damage in the areas which they occurred leading to the political argument of "Who is responsible for the cleanup and repair?". A strictly partisan divide has opened in the policy positions of handling natural disaster damage: Even though many of the disasters happened in Republican controlled areas, the Republican party has championed the point that the federal government has little to no stake in the cleanup after natural disasters. Even where the Republicans have considered government intervention in the wake of disasters there have been calls to couple cuts in spending to match aid spending. On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democrats have proposed providing assistance to those who were harmed by disaster without requiring conditions or cuts elsewhere.
Put plainly, "What the hell do these right wingers think the government is for if not to help those who are living within our border when they are harmed by outside forces, whether war or natural disaster?". I find it amazing that the political discourse of the USA has become so insane that the suggestion that disaster victims IN THE USA should simply fend for themselves is not met with a mixture of disgust and disbelief. We live in a society and that means that we sometimes need to support one another when disaster strikes. The right wing has stopped caring about the people which has led to attacks on every social safety program, from education to disaster relief. Recent policy choices in the Republican party are aimed to bring about a fractured society based entirely in the free market. If you don't pay for a service, you don't get it, even if you need it to survive. Social programs are not the undesirable results of liberal overspending, but rather what makes a society a society. The right wing has lost sight of the fact that the purpose of government is not the upward distribution of wealth and that they are not representatives of the corporations.
Eric Cantor is the perfect illustration of disaster politics gone wrong. A house representative's job is to represent the interests of the people living in their district, but Cantor has failed in his duty because of his loyalty to an ideal. The recent earthquake's epicenter was in Cantor's district, which was then followed by the landfall of hurricane Irene. Logic would dictate that a politician representing a district that had been hit by two severe disasters in a month would be requesting assistance for the citizens that he represents, but Cantor has been one of the largest proponents of withholding relief after disasters. Under the banner of "preventing overspending", Cantor has leveraged even his own constituents' health in an attempt to extort even larger cuts to the government. Even if I don't agree with a politician's political views, I don't see them as truly bad unless they are betraying the interests of the people who elected them. Our politicians should represent us, not the ideal of the free market or a faceless corporation, and the right wing has completely betrayed the country in the interest of serving the rich.
I only have one suggestion: Disaster relief is dwarfed by oil subsidies, thus if we channeled the subsidy money to the disaster victims rather than multinational corporations we could rebuild after disasters and still have more left over for future disasters; judging by the current trend in the climate, we will need it.
The Sarcastic Liberal