Down and Gritty: American Politics, Climate Change, and You

Shane O'Connell, Staff Writer

Two weeks ago we started back to school and, for most of us, dealing with the stress of first parking then finding your way to class through the construction and 25,000 other kids trying to do the same thing, was more than enough.

Yet, along with the familiar stress of classes beginning, the last week of August brought with it two obnoxious, uninvited party guests: pounding heat and its nasty little friend, humidity.

The two, brought on by the beginning stages of the 2015 El Niño, put me in a quandary about whether class was really worth the heavy sweating that would inevitably ruin yet another shirt of mine.

With temperatures hitting unprecedented heights around the globe this summer, the dry season of many areas has dangerously lengthened and intensified (as we Californians can attest) leading vast swaths of land previously left unscathed to be scorched by towering wildfires raging like a Mongolian horde.

We are, as President Obama stated after a recent trip to Alaska, “The first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last to be able to do anything about it.”

So if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) along with NASA, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and 97% of climate scientists agree that our Earth’s climate problems are surging behind the driving force of man made pollution, then why, here in the U.S., is this still a hotly debated topic?

The answer is the dirty tsunami of special interest dollars that drown politics today following the Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 Citizen’s United decision. If the U.S., like many countries around the globe, made the considerable cuts to our carbon emissions scientists the world over demand by pumping money into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, corporations like fossil fuel and petroleum giants Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil, would be knocked to their knees.

To avoid their demise they, and many other corporations like Anschutz and Coors, drop considerable contributions to “skeptic organizations” to try to fuel the flames of climate change non believers and to greasy swine on Capital Hill to fan away the alarming smoke raised by irrefutable scientific evidence. And they’ve been reasonably successful at it.

One-quarter of Americans (80 million drones) still don’t believe climate change exists and many of those that do, do not attribute the frightening pace of its acceleration to humans.

However, while one-fourth of our country denies internationally accepted facts, most Americans are sensible enough to recognize climate change as a fundamental issue going forward, but, due to the monetization of political belief by Citizen’s United,  are silenced by billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson loudly crinkling a few thousand Benjamins in waiting policy makers’, like Republican presidential candidates Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, “open for business” ears.

The fight for our environment starts today. The first thing we the people must do is invest our time in politicians fighting the corporate greed that has clogged D.C. to the current legislative gridlock we find today.

Bernie Sanders is the most outspoken presidential candidate on both climate change and money in politics and he desperately needs our generation’s help if he has any chance of being chosen as the Democratic nominee, let alone elected President of the United States.

With Bernie in the White House, our next step must be getting unrestricted, undisclosed spending out of politics by reversing the Citizen’s United decision. Without that, the billionaires of this country will only strengthen their already G.I. Joe Kung-Fu-like grip around Congress’s nut sack and the environment will continue down its steepening, irreversible descent towards utter devastation.



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