Frankenstorm Sandy was headed up the coast. Like all of you, we prepared—stocking up on water, batteries, non-perishable foods, extra ice…and more. York County preparation was evident by the empty shelves in grocery stores and sold-out generators. As it turns out, my wife Trish and I didn’t lose electrical power and it doesn’t look like I’ll need to power-up my chain saw.
Yes, the storm was monstrous—once-in-a-generation storm surges, downed trees, power outages, and flooding over a large swath of the Middle Atlantic region.
Would we have been able to mobilize the masses if nobody even reported the pending disaster? Would we have had access to the emergency planning and resources if policymakers had simply ignored the pending disaster and not declared a state of emergency in multiple states?
“Frankenstorm” put a mythological face on this unprecedented extreme weather event. And yes, it motivated me as well. It was more than a bit frightening. The Frankenstorm was a visible single indicator that extreme weather events can occur. Climate models predict that extreme weather events will become more numerous with our changing climate. We in the U.S. have seen numerous examples of extreme weather events just in the last year—think back to last October’s unprecedented snowfall (I needed the chain saw for that event), our mild winter, summer drought across much of the country, and now the Frankenstorm.
The impending consequences of our fossil-fuel-addicted society may need a visible monster-face as well. I propose the “Climate Vampire”! Vampires exist by sucking the essence out of living creatures. We in the U.S. have largely ignored the cries of global society and of our youth, “Please don’t suck the life out of Mother Earth!”
Unfortunately, the immediate impact of the fossil-fuel-sucking Climate Vampire is less visible than a Frankenstorm. In spite of the cumulative scientific literature, sophisticated computer models, and numerous summary reports, our policy makers, and we as a society, continue to ignore the Climate Vampire.
Vampires have captured the imagination of current-day society in films and novels. In many cases, the villain is suave and charismatic. However, the Climate Vampire is not to be swooned over. It is time for us to recognize this leech for what it is. It is in our own self-interest to confront the Climate Vampire. Just as we prepared for the Frankenstorm, we can mobilize society and our policymakers to address climate change. It is time to confront the Climate Vampire with the most dreaded of all weapons—a Vampire Tax, otherwise known as a Carbon Tax.
Our national elections are next Tuesday. Our candidates have largely ignored any mention of “climate change”. For the first time since 1988, “climate change” was not brought up in a single one of the presidential debates. In fact, it was MTV that broke the political climate silence: MTV Breaks Obama’s Climate Silence. Sway Williams sat down for an October 26 interview with President Obama. In response to Williams’s tough question about global warming, President Obama stated, “I am surprised it didn’t come up in one of the debates.”
In Governor Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, climate change was nothing more than a laugh-line when he quipped, “President Obama has promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” And, the Republican Party platform mentions “climate change” only once while downplaying its severity. For many, the term “climate change” is politically toxic.
By contrast, the Democratic Party platform addresses “climate change” 18 times, affirming the science while noting that, “Our opponents have moved so far to the right as to doubt the science of climate change.” Nevertheless, the democratic climate change discourse has been nearly as silent as the republican.
The Climate Vampire must be confronted. The term “climate change” can no longer be politically toxic. If we inform the masses, we can mobilize the masses—much as we did with the Frankenstorm. Our policy makers must accept that smart energy policy is effective economic policy and climate change policy. We—civil society—must demand climate change literacy of our elected officials, with smart climate change legislation as an outcome. Climate change is a planetary state of emergency. We need climate legislation. The essence of life on our planet depends on it.