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On The Record: Thinking Of Climate Change And Future Thanksgivings
It’s almost Thanksgiving, when a nation’s thoughts turn to gratitude and familial concord. And low, low prices on consumer electronics, but whatever.
Coming at the tail end of another tough year, many of us sorely need this day as an excuse to stop dwelling on how much everything stinks. Let’s start there, with a twist.
The premise: what will our descendants be thankful for a few decades down the line? You know, in keeping with the theme of the day—think of your family, a generation or two hence. They’re sitting around the table, waiting to dig in to a hearty meal of turkey and stuffing (or protein-isolate paste and starch orbs, if that’s what’s popular for Space Thanksgiving). Mom prods each person at the table to name something they’re really grateful for. What do they say?
Outgoing Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) may wonder something similar. At a House Science Subcommittee hearing on the science of climate change last week, he broke with climate deniers and obstructionists in his party in a fairly major way, invoking the wellbeing of generations yet unborn—or at least yet un-voting-age:
I’m very excited to be here Mr. Chairman, because this is on the record. And it’s a wonderful thing about Congressional hearings — they’re on the record. Kim Beazley who’s Australia’s ambassador to the United States tells me that when he runs into a climate skeptic, he says to them, “Make sure to say that very publicly, because I want our grandchildren to read what you said and what I said. And so, we’re on the record, and our grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, are going to read. And so some are here suggesting to those children that here’s a deal: Your child is sick — this is what Tom Friedman gave me this great analogy yesterday — Your child is sick. 98 doctors say treat him this way. Two say no, this other way is the way to go. I’ll go with the two. You’re taking a big risk with those kids. Because 98 of the doctors say, “Do this thing,” two say, “Do the other.” So, it’s on the record.
Rep. Inglis, by the way, already lost his primary to a tea party candidate, so he presumably feels no compunctions about turning back the reactionary anti-science dogma of the GOP’s ascendant fringe. Before 2010, the last time he received less than 60% of the vote in a congressional primary or election was 1992. Alas, he has now been pushed out—and to hear him tell it, nutty climate denialism is largely to blame.
DC address or no, I like Inglis’ narrative flourish. The next time you’re tired of hunting down the appropriate links—and there are lots and lots of links—to debunk nonsensical crockumentaries* and plagiarized ‘dissenter’ reports, take a break. Use this, the biggest, heaviest, most irrefutable of all rhetorical cudgels instead: “Fine, have it your way. We’ll do nothing. Just make sure you talk about it publicly and loudly, so your grandchildren and great grandchildren know who was responsible.”
(I know it doesn’t pack quite the pedantic punch of other global warming defense methods, but it would give even the most dyed-in-the-wool Big Oil All-Star pause. I hope. Think of the children!)
In some future November, will we have brought to bear a great, triumphant move toward sustainability? Will we be well on our way in the hard slog to change behavior and turn back climate change? Put another way, will our descendants give thanks for clean water, working weather and good health; or bemoan the ancestral shortsightedness that prioritized partisan bickering and posturing over the future of the planet?
* copyright 2010 Greenberg Wordplay ‘N’ Pontification, LLC