Climate Crisis, Gov. Inslee & the Blundering DNC

Saturday, August 3, 2019 (Listed under Environment)

It's getting harder to dodge the surging temperatures. I just returned from France, where Paris hit a record-breaking 109°F on July 25th and southern France topped out over 110°F. My family and I had left the City of Lights a few days earlier for Normandy, hoping to escape the worst of the heatwave. But in Courtonne-la-Meurdrac, it was all we could do to wait-out the oppressing 107°F. All this mayhem was accompanied by soaring mercury around the globe. Britain shattered its records, as did Belgium, The Netherlands, South Asia and cities across the eastern two-thirds of the United States. There are fires in southern Europe and unexpected places like the Arctic and Alaska, water scarcity in India, rapidly melting glaciers in the Himalayas and sea level rise threatening the very existence of Fiji and the Solomon Islands. There will soon be few places that are safe from the planetary distress we're witnessing.

Which raises two important questions: 1) Why has Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who is on the record saying climate change threatens the universe, banned candidates from participating in a climate debate? 2) Why is the one democratic candidate making climate mobilization a priority, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, not receiving daily headlines for the climate-centric campaign he has deployed?

Of course, there are many challenges ahead. Health care, the Border, foreign intervention in elections, data mining, human trafficking, women's rights, race relations and prison reform are all gravely important issues. But in the absence of a livable planet, the risk for which appears to be arriving sooner than was predicted just five years ago, it's hard to justify a campaign focused on anything but climate action as its primary issue.

Daunted by record temperatures, an obstructionist DNC Chairman, likely compromised by fossil fuel contributions to the DNC, and an ineffectual media so painfully ignorant of the multiplying consequences of the climate crisis, I find myself searching Zillow in the hope of identifying a safe place to live. But it's hard to unpack the risks of each area without new filters that reveal more than just the home's square footage and number of bedrooms and baths. Ideally, I'd like to know where the local drinking water sources and if they're safe from chemical contamination. Will I be able to buy renewably-powered electricty? Is there space to plant a vegetable garden? Are electric vehicle charging stations and net metering incentives in place for commuters and solar homeowners? Is the neighborhood subject to flash flooding? Can solar farms be approved easily so that apartment dwellers may purchase clean electricity? Are builders directed to allow solar power installations on the new “Association” homes they sell? Is there a nuclear plant, fracking operation or oil pipeline nearby that may render an otherwise appealing property a deal-breaker? These and other markers are now driving my decision-making as I seek a more sustainable future in an increasingly uncertain world. 

Fortunately, Governor Inslee is aware of the excruciatingly narrow window we have to defeat climate change and end the use of fossil fuels. He's the only democratic candidate consistently speaking the language of climate scientists and activists who are clued into the epic temperature and resource threats now upon us. At the fourth democratic debate on July 30th, Inslee emphasized again his commitment to making climate change the organizing principle of his campaign. His team was first to propose a climate-centered debate and it has rallied voters to call in to the DNC to express their support for the idea. When I called, the receptionist explained that they were receiving an unusually high number of comments in support of a climate debate.

Inslee is the eco-political whistleblower and organizer of the 2020 election, sounding the alarm on the greatest threat to civilization. If Perez continues to block a climate debate, it will be the responsibility of each of us and independent journalists to make Inslee—and his message—front page news.

Stacy Clark is a climate science advisor, Climate Reality Leader and the author of When the Wind Blows, a rhyming, renewable energy adventure for kids.


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