Monday, May 13, 2013

Manufactured vs. Real Crises

Last Friday, we examined Congress' current obsession with drama. Over the weekend, The Sun's Karoun Demirjian explained the befuddlement on Capitol Hill over the lack of a new and exciting manufactured crisis. So of course, instead of actually solving any real problems, the 21st Century Know Nothings in Congress are now on the hunt for a new crisis to keep them amused until another debt ceiling themed manufactured crisis kicks in.

So now, we have this.

"The whole issue of talking points, frankly throughout this process, has been a sideshow," Obama said. "What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened, we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were."

The President said Republicans are fueled more by politics than unearthing the truth.

"So the whole thing defies logic and the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly has a lot to do with political motivations," Obama said. "We've had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton's integrity, Susan Rice's integrity, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering's integrity. It's a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks. They've used it for fundraising."

G-O-TEA politicians keep digging through Benghazi records in hopes of finding dirt. They don't seem to mind their own dirty hands. They just want fresh mud to sling at President Obama.

Yet while they're digging for new manufactured crises, we have a very real crisis right here at our doorstep.

For the first time in human history, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm). The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.

These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked.

"It is symbolic, a point to pause and think about where we have been and where we are going," said Professor Ralph Keeling, who oversees the measurements on a Hawaian volcano, which were begun by his father in 1958. "It's like turning 50: it's a wake up to what has been building up in front of us all along."

"The passing of this milestone is a significant reminder of the rapid rate at which – and the extent to which – we have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," said Prof Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which serves as science adviser to the world's governments. "At the beginning of industrialisation the concentration of CO2 was just 280ppm. We must hope that the world crossing this milestone will bring about awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and how human society should deal with the challenge."

No one can say we haven't sent out the warnings. And really, we shouldn't have to. We've known for decades that climate change is happening. And as of late, we've seen increasing evidence that it's now happening at a previously unexpected and accelerated rate.

Last summer, Senator Harry Reid (D-Searchlight) said out loud what we already knew.

Climate change is happening. It's happening at a dangerously accelerating pace. And if we take action soon, we can kick start our economy while simultaneously saving ourselves.

And while one Senator is speaking out, the other has been noticeably quiet. And remember, this is a real crisis looming.

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