Hurricane Harvey displaced families, destroyed communities and left a city underwater. Its horror has spurred super-human rescue efforts throughout eastern Texas.
It’s also forcing us to think about climate change.
Thanks to wealthy fossil fuel interests like the Kochtopus, legitimate concerns about global warming have become political triggers. The Kochs and others have spent years pouring money into college programs and think tanks to question the validity of climate science. Now, between 30 and 40 percent of Americans don’t consider global warming a problem and even more don’t think it will affect them personally.
Calls to keep politics out of this disaster were swift.
But telling people not to politicize something is a form of politicization. By making something untouchable, you’re conveying your political beliefs on the matter. It limits the parameters of political discussion while willfully ignoring the larger implications of a global issue. And not talking about the political causes underlying today’s disasters will make tomorrow’s far worse.
We shouldn’t feel guilty about these conversations. Scientists warn that storms will gain destructive force as the planet heats and sea levels rise.
Hurricane Harvey wasn’t a destructive force solely because of global warming. If warmer temperatures lead to bigger storms with faster winds and greater rainfall, however, coastal cities like Houston will live under constant threat. It’s reasonable to view the disaster of Harvey as the micro-level effects of a macro-level problem.
Political squabbles will never outweigh human tragedy. People are suffering and there are a number of ways to help. Donating money is the most important and immediate, but keeping the discussion of climate change afloat is key in the long run. Every day with a climate change denying dolt in the White House is a fresh reminder of that.