A river with no water: Denial
The headline should have been enough to convince any climate denier: The Sierra snowpack in 2015 was the lowest in 500 years. According to the scientific paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, our snowpack on April 1 was just 5 percent of the 50-year average. One of the paper’s authors, Valerie Trouet from the University of Arizona, said even the researchers were surprised: “We expected it to be bad but we certainly didn’t expect it to be the worst in the past 500 years.”
Since the Sierra snowpack provides about a third of California’s water needs, Gov. Jerry Brown naturally took umbrage at the remarks of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson who continues to insist there “is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused.” Brown sent him the 2014 United Nations report on the subject and rebuked him by noting that “climate change is much bigger than partisan politics.”
Despite his scientific orientation as a brain surgeon, Carson has long prioritized his religious views over science, preferring to see climate change as normal variations in the weather. And none of his Republican competitors for president had anything better to say when asked about climate change in the second debate.
Sen. Marco Rubio articulated the latest trend in Republican thinking about climate change, namely that anything America does won’t solve the problem, so we shouldn’t do anything. He told the nation: “Every proposal they put forward will make it harder to do business in America. …We are not going to destroy our economy, make America a harder place to create jobs, in order to pursue a policy that will do nothing, nothing to change our climate, to change our weather.”
But intelligent people ignore the obvious at their peril. If Earth becomes inhabitable, there will be no America for anyone to live in, rich or poor, jobless or employed.
A recent poll by the New York Times indicated that two-thirds of Americans will vote for candidates who promise to take action to combat climate change. Republicans don’t seem to believe that clear message.
As everyone in the Truckee Meadows hopes the upcoming El Niño winter cures our severe drought, the struggle over water brings the climate change debate into sharp local focus. Back in 2014, Lance Gilman from the industrial park that landed the Tesla giga-factory said water was not an issue. “We’re really not impacted by the drought situation,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Our water source appears to be incredibly stable and we haven’t seen a change in it at all.”
Fast forward to September 2015, and you’ll hear intensifying whining about water from the industrial park as Gilman make plans to build a pipeline to the sewer plant to suction 1.3 billion gallons a year of effluent at no charge. Several members of the Reno City Council, Democrats Jenny Brekhus and David Bobzien, rightly objected to his plan, citing higher priority needs for the effluent in a thirsty community.
The two views on climate change and the need to change our water-wasting, uber-business attitude distinguish the two parties as perhaps no other issue does. Witness the remarks of Republican Representative Paul Gozar from Arizona who decided to boycott the Pope’s address to Congress because his “climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ’climate justice’ and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.”
By the time the Republicans wake up to the “leftist” view of climate change they may find that younger voters, who have the most to lose if climate change deniers have their way, have abandoned their party for good.