If you follow politics at all, you’ve probably noticed the in-depth discussion about the urgency of climate change and its impacts on earth and those who inhabit it – at least from President Barack Obama and the Democrats.
Climate change is a serious issue. It’s been a topic on the agendas of presidential hopefuls since Richard Nixon introduced the topic in 1969. If you’ve ever seen a picture of a lone polar bear floating on a tiny ice cap in the middle of a sea, then you already know the dangers of global warming. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it has become increasingly clear that climate change is taking place, evidenced by warmer global air and ocean temperatures, melting snow and ice caps, and rising sea levels. It’s also extremely important to note that most of earth’s recent climate change has been caused by human activity. This rate of climate change is dangerous to earth’s ecosystems, and the heat waves experienced by the northeastern United States (hey, that’s us!) could have an impact on our health in the form of increased air pollution and more frequent precipitation that would cause sewage overflows, resulting in waterborne illnesses.
So if sewage overflows and waterborne illnesses are enough to gross you out, you’re probably concerned about climate change. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, is concerned, too. In fact, he’s so concerned, he decided to discuss it in his Republican National Convention speech. And by discuss it, I mean make a joke out of it resulting in thunderous laughter and applause from the crowd.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans (pause for laughter) and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” (Thunderous applause).
In just two sentences, Romney managed to insult Obama and dismiss the idea of rising sea levels as a mere joke. If Bill Nye was watching, I’m sure he shed a tear or two.
To be clear, Romney has recently expressed a moderate view on the subject of climate change. In a recent online debate between Obama and Romney conducted by ScienceDebate.org, Obama took a strong approach saying that “climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation.” Romney, on the other hand, stated that while he’s “not a scientist”, he does believe that the earth is getting warmer, and that human activity contributes to that warming. This comes off as odd, being that just last year he denied climate change, saying “we don’t know what’s causing it.”
He then continues to insult Obama’s efforts in getting Americans to decrease their carbon dioxide emissions by saying that it’s detrimental to the U.S. economy. “The reality is that the problem is called global warming, not America warming,” Romney quipped. As far as I can tell, it seems like Romney’s favorite thing to do is joke about climate change.
But the sad thing is, it’s not a joke. It’s important, it’s real and it’s happening as we speak. What would this country be like if we were led by a president with no real passion for fighting a dangerous issue that’s been scientifically proven over and over?
If we assume Romney is not proactive in reversing climate change, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere would continue to increase, causing rising sea levels, rising global temperatures and increased ocean acidity. If climate change is left unattended, we are leaving future generations with potentially irreversible damage to our planet.
In the ScienceDebate.org interview, Romney also said that there is a “lack of scientific consensus” on the subject of climate change. While this might be true, it is only slightly true, because over 95 percent of publishing climate scientists agree that the earth is warming and human activity is the cause. But hey, Romney’s no scientist! And I’m sure Neil deGrasse Tyson would gladly attest to this assertion.
I take Romney’s decision to ease off the climate change subject as a figurative punch in the face to climate scientists everywhere, who are trying to provide us with information on a subject that they believe should not be taken lightly. How can you argue with science? I can’t, but Romney’s figured out a way.
I find it upsetting that Romney doesn’t take the fate of our planet seriously, doesn’t take science seriously and is probably not the type of guy who would “share” a picture on Facebook of a lonely polar bear standing on a tiny floating ice cap in the middle of the sea. If the decision was solely up to me, I would choose a man with faith in science to lead our country.
Jillian Correira is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.