Climate Change and the Big Picture

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I have relatives in Virginia who have been hoping their roof doesn’t collapse from the extraordinary weight of recent snowfalls.

A short ride away, some Washington politicians, including science-challenged Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), have been using Snowmageddon to ridicule those who seek action on climate change. DeMint tweeted: “It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle.’”

The brain freeze appears to be contagious. Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-OK) family constructed an igloo near the Capitol, with a sign reading: “Al Gore’s New Home.”

Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh correctly dismissed such juvenile antics, explaining what’s clear to most people: “Weather is what will happen next weekend; climate is what will happen over the next decades and centuries.”

If Al Gore made any mistake, it was one of nomenclature. In a recent interview with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Newsweek Senior Washington Correspondent Howard Fineman said conservative skeptics would have less to mock if the former vice president had used the term “climate change” instead of “global warming.”

“I do think that labels matter,” Fineman said. “And in retrospect, simply focusing on warming was a mistake, just in terms of the politics and the salesmanship of what is undoubtedly a really, really big problem.”

Nonbelievers should heed the interests of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who will inherit a sickly Earth. Padding their pockets with hefty contributions from Big Oil is what will happen next weekend. The ability to survive is what will happen over the next decades and centuries.

For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country, by Howard Fineman

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