The sadness I feel one week before the election is profound. I am exhausted by the 18 month electoral circus, the rampant incivility, the endless waterfall of negative ads, the mocking tone of the candidates. I am exhausted by the unchallenged lies that have brought the political right within a stones throw of owning the White House. I'm exhausted by the nearly unbearable irony of Hurricane Sandy's devastation a week before an election cycle in which the words "climate change" have barely been uttered by either party's candidates. Don't get me wrong. I think it matters deeply whether Obama or Romney end up as our President. I believe President Obama sincerely wants the climate issue addressed. And Hurricane Sandy is the biggest reason yet to send Romney and the Tea Party Republicans packing for their mocking denial of climate realities. But even if elected, President Obama will not get his chance to address the single greatest threat facing humankind. The Republican Congress, still owned by Tea Party radicals, will see to that. An Obama presidency in which climate is off the table for discussion, let alone decisive action, is a neutered presidency, hostage to a failed political system, a shattered democracy. Obama will always have my admiration for his tenacity and humanity in the midst of such toxic political realities. I ardently hope he remains our president. But hope for a top-down solution to our climate crisis is no longer tenable. We will have to find another way.
According to Bill McKibben, Hurricane Sandy "had lower barometric pressure, a higher storm surge, and greater size than the region had ever seen before. It's as out of kilter as the melting Arctic or the acidifying ocean. And if there were any poetic justice, it would be named Hurricane Chevron or Hurricane Exxon, not Hurricane Sandy. . . The fossil fuel industry has spent over $150 million to influence this year’s election. Last week, Chevron made the single biggest corporate political donation since the Citizens United decision. This industry warps our democracy just as it pollutes our atmosphere."
Regardless of who wins the election, there is no time to sit on our hands. When 350.org comes to Seattle to kick off its Do the Math tour on Nov. 8th, the day after the election, I will be there, and I will be ready to roll up my sleeves. I don't think I'm going to be alone.
As McKibben says, "Sandy is what happens when the temperature goes up a degree. The scientists who predicted this kind of megastorm have issued another stark warning: if we stay on our current path, our children will live on a super-heated planet that's four or five degrees warmer than it is right now. We can't let that happen."
What do you plan to do?