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Climate change — a sleeper issue in November | Climate change — sleeper issue come November | Opinion

Climate change — a sleeper issue in November | Climate change — sleeper issue come November | Opinion



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Miller Hudson


The Legislature is now closed for another year so we can concentrate our attention on midterm elections in 2022. How lucky are we? Truth is, for Colorado at least, this may prove to be a dull exercise. Republicans appear determined to pursue their recent strategy, which is to choose electoral suicide over any chance of winning at drop-off. And, while statewide races may not be midterms, they promise four more years Democratic dominance at the Capitol.

It was Ambrose Bierce who observed we are all lunatics of a sort, but it’s the capacity to appraise our own delusions that offers a path to sanity. Republicans have always shown a tendency to claim that their election losses are ample evidence that voters were cheated, duped, or misled. It’s far easier to believe Dominion voting machines are manipulated by clever Democrats than to accept the possibility a majority of voters are simply rejecting what Republicans have to offer.

What are we to make of a Congressional candidate who goes to court demanding to be identified as “Let’s Go Brandon” on the Republican primary ballot? Who is smart enough to ask for their support and who might be persuaded? I suspect it will not be enough to win a majority of the November vote. I’d like to agree that Democrats possess the requisite skills to steal an election, but Will Rogers got it right nearly a century ago when he observed, “I am not a member of any organized political party, I am a Democrat.”

The Russian attack on Ukraine took Americans by surprise. Another crisis is simmering on the back burner of our political stove. And, as Harry Truman observed, if you can’t take the heat it might be a good time to exit the kitchen. Climate change, global warming, as well as other environmental disruptions, are rapidly affecting the human race. We have come to expect the resilience of natural ecosystems. They can withstand a lot of abuse and not suffer any visible damage. They can also collapse without warning, which is a danger. You might be fishing one evening and then the next morning, after an acid rain the fish are floating on top.

My college degree was in Zoology, for reasons that are too complex to explain here. Consequently, I still subscribe to biology journals and have been reading Oliver Milman’s “The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires that Run the World.” We are passingly familiar with the colony collapse disorder that’s been destroying beehives worldwide and undermining pollination of the 60% of food crops that depend on them for fertilization. Though reliance on neonicotinoid pesticides has surely contributed to this decline in hive health, together with a growing reliance on mono-culture farms that limit the variety of bee diets (yes, this matters), their number one threat is now climate warming.

Only a few decades back, pick-up trucks in Colorado’s rural areas had bug-bras to protect radiators against insect splatter. They are not often seen today. As Milman reports, insects are far more sensitive to temperature change than we realized, “Heat things up a little bit and an animal (or insect) can move a little closer to the poles or up a mountain to find suitably cool temperatures. But there’s a limit to this. Crank the temperature up further or faster and they struggle to survive.” Not all species are at risk. Houseflies, mosquitos, and other pests will likely double their numbers in North America by 2080. This is a sign that things can get worse.

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Scientists from the marine sector are seeing sea temperatures rise. 70% of the climate warming eventually makes its way into the oceans. Salt water retains less oxygen as it warms. This causes coral bleaching, which kills the coast reefs. It also leads to fish die-offs, which threw millions upon rotting carcasses onto the beaches near Naples, Florida last year. The entire marine food chain is being destabilized by widespread de-oxygenization. This could lead to the extinction of many species that are currently dependent on commercial fisheries. For decades, the number of fish caught has been decreasing. It is not known if a collapse of the population is possible or if it can be prevented.

In the face of what appears to be an inevitable conversion of our planet’s energy budget from fossil fuels to predominantly sustainable and renewable resources, several states (mostly Republican) have been adopting legislation that punishes banks, hedge funds and financial investors that are refusing to continue funding fossil-fuel projects. This is a fool’s wager. As The New Republic magazine recently noted, there are more “No Compromise Climate Candidates” running for Congress than ever before. Their campaigns refuse to accept fossil fuel contributions. This may not be a winning message yet, but we’re only one crop failure away from a landslide voter response in their favor. Just wait!

Miller Hudson is a public relations consultant and a former Colorado legislator.

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