Try to imagine a world today unaffected by ever-increasing climate change, a world no longer on the precipice of disaster so large that our way of life and that of the entire planet may be terminated by the next decade.
What if policies had been instituted to mitigate climate change and reduce its overall effect on the environment two decades ago. Where would we be today? The many severe hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, floods and drought, the astronomical financial burden on our national budget and damage to the economy, all could have been arrested and would continue to be reversed, and we as a the nation would have moved towards sustainable, renewable, low cost energy creating millions of jobs in the process. The involvement of our government in the Middle East, and in all foreign affairs for that matter, would certainly have been severed from oil dependency and foreign policies freed from a compromise of principle in pursuit of our energy interests, unsavory deals with the devil, abroad and at home, a loss of control.
By Michael Caporale
In November 2000, you might not have wondered about such things as the fate of the Gore v. Bush election dangled on the thin thread of Floridian chad and the political relationship between Jeb Bush and the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who certified Bush as the winner. Even before the election, Gore was a climate activist, but then he was “ahead of his time,” which simply put means that you and I and the rest of the nation had other concerns and were divided by the many climate deniers in the right-wing media, the political puppets of the energy industry and their “loner donors” who erected a wall of confusion and doubt challenging the science and data of what was then referred to as “global warming.” But Gore knew better. Oh, you might say he did not say enough. He did not fight enough. But wisdom is the better part of valor and it’s safe to assume that even then, he and his advisors knew that this would be a hill to die on. First item on his agenda was winning. It was understood that global warming was not a winning issue.
So now, we find ourselves today at the eleventh hour, the very last possibility to stop global warming and begin the reversal process on climate change, a reality but for one man a so-called Democrat, the Senator who opposes climate mitigation legislation. It’s no secret that Joe Manchin represents West Virginia. Ostensibly he’s protecting a few West Virginia jobs and the economy of the state, but more so, he’s the coal industry’s finger in the dam holding back meaningful change that will allow our society to endure, that we may continue to enjoy the liberties we have all sacrificed for and pay them forward to succeeding generations.
It’s not like West Virginians don’t suffer along with the rest of us. River floods have decimated entire communities. The work force employed by the coal industry is only 3%. Their infrastructure is crumbling. Education in West Virginia is vastly in need of improvement. Yet polls and interviews reveal that West Virginians just can’t let go of “coal,” such is their identity so entwined with it. They perceive that any other form of energy is an attack on their sacred tradition, their heritage and their future. Truth is, it’s just not so. But there you have it. The Democratic Senator who represents their state has the equivalent of veto power in a Senate divided 50/50 and continually rattles that saber to obstruct meaningful and effective climate legislation. It is an affront to democracy that this one man, heavily invested in coal energy, can decide the fate of the nation and the planet for his own political and financial interests. He is a coward.
Current climate policy is based on the concept of attaining Net Zero. For example, even today I saw an ad for Cisco wherein they touted that they would achieve net zero by 2040, as if this was some kind of meritorious goal. Poppycock! How utterly pathetic and hopelessly deceiving when set upon a complacent and largely ignorant public, too busy fighting the reality of rebuilding after a disaster than to understand the finer points of policy speak
Net Zero is a term coined in climate policy negotiations that essentially means the same as the phrase “zero sum game.” In a net zero equation, as in a zero sum game, losses are balanced against gains to arrive at zero. The total of +1 and -1 = 0. Theoretically, as in the game, there are no winners, but again there are no losers as well. However, in the world of climate change net zero means a balancing act that will not affect any change and it allows polluters to continue to pollute in an amount equal to mitigation forces, therefore “net zero.” In that mathematical climate offset, we are all losers. Only actual zero will stop climate change and reverse the process. Burning coal to produce energy causes pollution. It will always cause pollution. “Clean coal” is not clean. It’s like saying an “honest thief” or a “moral pedophile.” It’s an oxymoron. It’s a polluter. Joe Manchin has written the final act assuring that we will be killing ourselves and our children to satisfy his goals.
We can’t fix this problem totally today, but through a concerted effort it can be ameliorated in the next election if we act as we are one. To assure climate mitigation, we must make Joe Manchin irrelevant. In short Democrats need to pick up a minimum of two seats and stack the Senate 52/48. The focus of the party should be to target and work towards the best opportunities in that regard, put all of their energy behind it and then cut Manchin loose. He has no value to the nation as a whole in this regard. Set him float in his own flood waters. Let him keep his finger in the dam. Blow up the dam.