Saturday, July 27, 2019

Red vs Blue on Climate

I remember a public service announcement back in the 90s by the Better World Society that featured a bunch of Muppets trying to share one house. Kermit the frog, at the beginning, says, "What if everyone in the world lived in the same house?"  At the end he comes back to say, "We do!" and the camera pulls back to reveal the "house" is the Earth. Republicans and Democrats all live in the same "house", nevertheless, they seem to have trouble getting along.

In Oregon, Republican state senators fled the state to prevent a cap-and-trade bill from being passed. Democrats dominate both legislative chambers in Oregon, and Republicans were unapologetic about their efforts to slow progress on the emissions-reduction program by keeping the Democrats from having a quorum to call a vote. The governor, Kate Brown, a Democrat, ordered the state police to find the Republican senators and bring them back. One state senator, Brian Boquist, threatened to shoot to kill any state trooper sent to get him. Ultimately, the state capitol was shut down by lawmakers after receiving threats from militia groups.

Last month the New York Times reported on the aggressive rollout of climate strategies in "blue" states and how "red" states are sitting back. Democratic majorities in California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Washington have all passed bills aimed at shifting away from fossil fuels, the major driver of global warming. Meanwhile the Trump administration has pledged to withdraw from the Paris agreement, with Republican backing, which makes the job of blue states trying to address the issue more difficult. Still, the opposition to President Trump’s plan to weaken pollution standards for automobiles widened when 24 governors, including three Republicans, urged the president to abandon his plan. In fact, 17 automakers, including Ford, GM, Toyota, Volvo, BMW, and Volkswagen, have co-signed a letter to Trump asking him to back off this plan.

The fact is we all do live here in the same "house", on the same planet. But we get sucked into a fight over who's gonna win, the Republicans or the Democrats, the Red states or the Blue states, the conservatives or the progressives. Then we find that some of these folks we oppose are our next-door neighbors. Most of us treat our neighbors much more kindly than we would if we considered them subversive political opponents. We only get nasty in the anonymity of printer's ink or social media. But across the driveway or over the back fence, we behave ourselves.

Clearly, the adverse effects of the changing climate affect our neighbors as well as ourselves, and the only way we can win is together. Maybe we could listen to each other politely, debate rather than argue, speak calmly rather than scream. Maybe we could all just get along.