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Climate Change Looms More Terrifying Than Any Fiction

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Climate Change Looms More Terrifying Than Any Fiction


Reprinted with permission from ANDREWS MCME

MOBILE, Alabama — In mid-June, scorching temperatures forced American Airlines to cancel several regional flights from Phoenix. The flights use a small jet, the Bombardier CRJ, which has difficulty achieving lift in very hot, less-dense air.

The temperature in Phoenix soared as high as 120 degrees.

Meanwhile, here on the Gulf Coast, weather forecasters were warning of high winds and flash floods — a result of torrential rainfall. Southern Alabama and Mississippi had already been pelted by days of downpours when Tropical Storm Cindy came ashore and cut a swath across 500 miles, from Texas to Florida.

While intense storms often create tornadoes, they are also capable of generating damaging high winds. A 10-year-old boy visiting from Missouri with his family was killed in a freak accident on an Alabama beach in June when he was struck by a log that had been thrown ashore by a storm surge.

Climate scientists say we can expect more weather extremes — fierce heat, droughts, devastating storms and dangerous flooding — as a result of global warming, which has already reached critical levels. Yes, there is something counterintuitive about this: While droughts and massive wildfires are likely results of climate change, so is flooding from more rainfall. That’s because warmer air can hold more moisture.

Yet, we dither. We dispute. We do nothing. In the face of one of the most dangerous threats humankind has ever faced — rivaled only by the threat of nuclear annihilation — American political leaders have decided to behave as if it’s nothing more than the mindless plot of a summer blockbuster.

It’s not. The evidence of human-caused climate change is clear and convincing. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred in this young century; 2016 broke the record set in 2015, which had broken the record set the year before. Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has famously predicted that humankind has a century to find another planet to live on or face extinction.

Still, President Donald J. Trump and most of the leaders of the Republican Party insist global warming isn’t happening. Climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, the president has claimed. Trump pulled out of the historic Paris climate accords that President Barack Obama had helped to negotiate, yanking the United States out of global leadership on a critical issue.

Republican voters, meanwhile, have fallen into line on cue, rejecting science, disputing evidence, parroting the partisan lines they hear on Fox News. It doesn’t matter how many droughts and floods and intense storms they experience; they will follow their leaders like lemmings to the cliff.

If there are Republicans left who still believe in science — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ran in 2008 on a platform that endorsed the need for a tax on carbon emissions — they are afraid to say so now. The Koch brothers and other super-wealthy polluters have bullied them into silence, threatening their political survival if they so much as utter the words “climate change.” They’ve learned from the defeat of former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis, a Republican who was beaten by a tea partier in 2010 after he proposed a carbon tax.

This isn’t merely dispiriting. It’s downright frightening. I had always believed that, given factual information, literate citizens of a wealthy democracy like the United States would behave rationally, acting on that information to preserve their survival. I was wrong.

It turns out that journalist-turned-novelist Omar El Akkad has a much more realistic understanding of human nature than I do. In his searing debut novel, “American War,” he casts our current dysfunctional politics into a near-future in which global warming has devastated the United States, but the South refuses to give up fossil fuel, leading to secession and internecine warfare.

The novel is all the more unsettling because it seems to line up so neatly with our troubling reality. In the current issue of the journal Science, climate researchers predict that the southern United States is among the regions that will suffer greatly from global warming. Yet, it is also a region that continues to give Trump enthusiastic support.

It is an irony that history will long note — if there are any historians left to point it out.

(Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth June 30, 2017

    There is so much to discuss among ourselves in a clear, unbiased and dispassionate manner, and I’ve been trying to do that in my own small way, hoping to draw us away from seeing situations unraveling in terms of politics, policies and man-made ideologies.

    This article, Trump’s enormously dangerous personality disorder, the shaking of the foundations of the most venerable religious institutions we’ve known since 0 C.E. and within Islam, the resurgence of racism and nationalism, fear of other human beings, greed and avarice, expansionist aspirations of China, Russia, America’s growing materialism, ordinary Americans focused on their own well-being or of that of groups who they align with based on physically outward traits—all these are not separate, disparate events, but are intertwined and linked in a vast Cause-and-Effect pattern sweeping the planet.

    The GOP and Trump, Assad, Iran, Russia, are some of the major tumors arising as a result of a deep spiritual malaise—nothing we say about the GOP and Trump’s aberrant behavior will change the course of these “tumors”; Trump and the GOP, Russia, China, Iran, etc., are on a path each has set for itself, and no cajoling, scolding or even major changes in the current social/religious structure is going to help. The status quo Religions are so damaged at the institutional/clerical levels that nothing efficacious can be forthcoming; the political system in America—a system far more advanced and noble in its intent–is far beyond repair because of deep flaws on a human and spiritual level; the migrant situation with so many displaced refugees seeking new lands to escape to is over-extending the capacities of individual nations who at the human level are unable to show the will to come together to consult on how to alleviate this crisis. The health of ordinary American citizens is taking a hit from all sides, mainly due to a rigidly partisan structure damaged and rotten beyond repair political—to try to fix any structure that is rotten all the way down to its foundation, and run by people similarly corrupt in their core, is a waste of time and effort.

    All of these issues and structural failures have in common the complete breakdown of human morality and lack of a sense of connection with all other humans on the planet. Political solutions can only do so much, but they don’t change hearts; good intentions, lofty sentiments eloquently spoken by anyone with the most powerful elocution skills, like the late Dr. Martin Luther King for example, are inadequate in the face of centuries-old buildup of the bile of racism, ethnic bigotries, political bitterness, religious bigotries, the nihilism of individualism, and vast economic inequalities which have widen the gap between the inordinately rich from the most destitute, to the point that the gap is wider than the breadth of the Grand Canyon.

    Russia is out of control, Islam is in disarray, Christianity is looked upon as something to acknowledge only in a perfunctory manner, the Catholic Church continues to be rocked with new scandals still unsatisfactorily resolved, rapes and rape cases continue with many men(and some women) dismissing the events as unimportant, new strain of antibiotic-resistant strains keep evolving while possible research money is diverted for defense, to further pollute the environment, while increasing the temperature to levels beneficial to increase in ticks and tick-borne diseases. Not to mention the public health dimension.

    “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded.”—-Baha’u’llah

    1. dbtheonly June 30, 2017


      I’ll really be worried when Trump starts counting the strawberries in the White House.

      More seriously, why could Nelson Mandela break the back of racism & Barack Obama not?

      1. TZToronto June 30, 2017

        It was the mess boys, I believe. Unlike Queeg, Trump has done nothing for his country that would in any way absolve him of blame.

      2. Mooster75 June 30, 2017

        Because we’re better at racism than any johnny-come-lately African country. USA! USA!

      3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth June 30, 2017

        Nelson had a lot of help from other nations applying pressure on the Apartheid regime; President Obama got no such assistance from the outside world in putting pressure on America’s politicians to make change.
        Then there was also much less of a corruption in the white political structure, due to a strong religious conviction of the superiority of those with light skin complexion, as taught by the Dutch Reformed Church; here in America, Religion doesn’t play as nearly as strong an influence in everyday lives, and the institution of slavery in America was extremely pervasive and persuasive in molding a different kind of chemistry between blacks and whites.

        Plus, Nelson struck a chord of respect in the hearts of many white South Africans who admired him for his personal story and being imprisoned for so long against daunting odds that he would survive that hardship, and who weren’t as politically motivated and divisive in getting things done, as is the case in America.

        1. dbtheonly July 1, 2017

          I had been thinking more along the lines that the whites in South Africa knew that the game was up. Whites in the USA still feel there is an option for maintaining dominance.

          I was quite young at the time, but I remember any number of white churches supporting Dr. King.

    2. Annmperry July 1, 2017

      my roomate’s mother gets $62 an hour at home and she’s been out of work for 2 months. last month her pay was $19199 just working on the laptop for 3 hours a day.➤ look at ➤ this site

    3. dpaano July 6, 2017

      Thanks, Aaron….do you have any GOOD news? I was depressed before, but now it’s even worse!!! Everything you said, however, was absolutely on point!

  2. TZToronto June 30, 2017

    I visited Las Vegas last week. The display in the car on Tuesday read 121 degrees. On Thursday, it read 124 degrees. The weather guy on TV said it was only 117 degrees, but that was at the airport. The previous hottest I had ever seen in Vegas was 115 degrees, about 35 years ago. Here in Toronto, we’ve had unusually wet weather for the end of June. Usually by this time, the front lawn is a lovely field of dried grass; today it’s very green. The Toronto islands, a summer playground for many people in Toronto, are, in some places, submerged in Lake Ontario, something that hasn’t happened since I’ve been living here, more than 40 years. I suppose it’s good to see that the Great Lakes aren’t drying up any time soon, but the threat of meteotsunamis (10-foot+ waves that hit the shoreline, caused by extreme weather) is becoming a reality in many parts of the Great Lakes. Climate change isn’t confined to warmer global temperatures; it’s being seen in many localities and in many forms. What will it take for climate change deniers to accept that this is not conducive to human survival? Perhaps a realization that profits will not keep climate change from happening?

    1. dbtheonly July 1, 2017

      Happy 150 TZ!

      1. TZToronto July 1, 2017

        On behalf of 35 million Canadians (and numerous dual American/Canadians), I thank you! Big party today in Ottawa, as you might expect.

        1. dpaano July 6, 2017

          My mother was born in Canada in Saskatchewan. So, that must make me half Canadian, wouldn’t you think? I often think I should check with the Canadian Embassy here in L.A. to see if I can qualify as a dual citizen. Unfortunately, my mom was married to a U.S. citizen! That might put the kibosh on my plans!

          1. TZToronto July 6, 2017

            I’m no expert on such things. However, I would think that you might have a claim to Canadian citizenship. My kids, born in Canada, have dual citizenship, but technically a birth abroad needs to be registered with the US (State Department?) by the child’s fifth birthday. I don’t know what the corresponding Canadian rules are, but having a Canadian parent should count for something. Wanna move here?

          2. dpaano July 7, 2017

            I would LOVE to move to Canada….been thinking that Victoria or Vancouver would be a great place to retire. My husband and I could build one of those “tiny houses” and live very comfortably as long as there’s fishing nearby!

      2. Margodrodgers July 2, 2017

        my best friend’s sister-in-law makes $75 per hour from home.. she’s been without work for five months but last month her pay was $21295 working on the internet 2 hours a day..➤ check

    2. dpaano July 6, 2017

      Maybe when they realize that Stephen Hawkings is much smarter than they are…..but, don’t hold your breath. After all, he doesn’t come on FAUX News too often and you don’t see him in any newspaper articles in the National Enquirer!

  3. I know a joke July 1, 2017

    Thanks Jill Stein! Thanks Bernie Sanders!

  4. idamag July 1, 2017

    There is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that it might wash away mar-a-lago. The bad news is it might wash away the good with the bad. I live in what is called the high desert. Very little rainfall and dry heat or cold. I live in Southeastern Idaho. The past few years we have had much more moisture. We had record snowfall last winter and have had rain every month since. We used to end up with drought conditions every year. This year, the reservoirs were full when we started into winter and water has had to be released from the dams because of flooding.

  5. dpaano July 6, 2017

    What’s interesting is that most of the states that will suffer the most are the southern and central states…..all Republican-led states. Maybe when Mar-a-Lago is underwater, our illustrious pseudo-president will see the light, but I sincerely doubt it!


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