According to ThinkProgress, 50 percent of the new Republicans in Congress do not believe climate change is caused by human beings, if it even exists. So it follows that one of the first actions of the new Congress was to shut down the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming. The newspaper Politico published the news like an obituary: “The House Democrats’ prized global warming committee died quietly on Wednesday. It was four years old.”
Let’s say that the death of the commission was not so quiet and that it was more of an assassination. The Republicans claim they did it in self defense or, rather, in defense of the people. “We have pledged to save taxpayers’ money by reducing waste and duplication in Congress," stated Michael Steele. "The Select Committee on Global Warming — which was created to provide a political forum to promote Washington Democrats’ job-killing national energy tax — was a clear example, and it will not continue in the 112th Congress."
Climate change died. We no longer have to worry. We don’t even have to attend its funeral, because there is no time. We have to save jobs… dismissing those mad scientists who think the heat wave in Moscow last summer, floods in Pakistan, and the record temperatures of 2010 have anything to do with our actions.
I remember my conversation with one of those scientists, Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who in the ‘70s found that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contribute to the greenhouse effect and who has testified before the now-dissolved committee. 40 years ago, he was also accused of being crazy because of his greenhouse theories. When I asked Ramanathan what he would say to those who do not believe in climate change caused by humans, he replied that to be wrong would make him very happy.
And I remember my visit to New Orleans, which coincided with the first days of discharge after the explosion of the British Petroleum and Halliburton oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Then they spoke only of the lives lost by the 11 workers and the few "threads of clay" that came up from the bottom of the sea.
I was working on a story about the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, documenting the work of Brad Pitt and others to rebuild a greener New Orleans. I then stayed for a photo session with Malik Rahim, former Black Panther and co-founder of Common Ground Relief, an organization created to help victims of Katrina. I mentioned the thought that Obama and the Democrats would lose control of Congress if they did not generate employment, to which he replied with a premonition: "The oil spill will create thousands of jobs. At what price?"
Every time someone talks about creating jobs today, without thinking about the future of our grandchildren and their grandchildren, I remember the words of Rahim. Yes, I know that many people will accuse Rahim of being a criminal (he spent five years in prison), but his words make sense.
I am not on the side of Democrats or Republicans, but on the side of children whom I will not know, those who will be born seven generations after mine; this is not an original idea but an idea of the Native American. What good does it do me to have a job today if my children are going to have to suffer the consequences of climate change? Is it worth it to live better now if we suffer later? Who says you cannot create jobs and reduce our CO2 emissions at the same time?
If it were only that easy to stop climate change... It’s not enough to put the climate change commission in a coffin and nail it shut. Fortunately, there are many people in the world committed to finding solutions rather than votes. Ultimately, the solution is in our hands and not in those of politicians — but it would be nice if the government, for once, would give us a hand.
What do we lose if we reduce our emissions and then it turns out that we were wrong, and, in fact, the climate is not changing? I end with the words of Ramanathan: We must hope that we are wrong!