Mother Nature is entering a dissenting opinion on last month’s Supreme Court decision that weakened the federal government’s ability to combat climate change.
With record heat in Texas that is testing the state’s power grid, a California wildfire that has threatened an ancient grove of sequoias considered a foundation stone of the national-park system, and persistent drought across the West that is forcing unprecedented cutbacks in water deliveries from the Colorado River, the summer of 2022 already is shaping up as another season of extreme and dangerous environmental conditions.
The paradox is that precisely as these events are dramatizing the rising costs of inaction on climate change, Washington faces more difficulty in taking action. That’s not only because of the Supreme Court but also because of the resistance to sweeping legislation in the Senate from every Republican as well as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who represents one of the top coal-producing states, West Virginia. Adding to the strain: The states most integrated into the existing fossil-fuel economy—almost all of them controlled by Republicans—are escalating their efforts to block action on climate change from the federal government and even the private sector.
In all of these ways, both the magnitude of the threat and the difficulty of responding to it are simultaneously rising—a trend that climate scientists find equally frustrating and frightening.
“In a world where facts are no longer the currency, it actually is very hard to make arguments in favor of doing what seems very logical,” Kathy Jacobs, the director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona, told me. “People are questioning really fundamental scientific principles and/or just choosing to ignore them. This post-fact world we are operating in makes dealing with this problem much more difficult.” [Continue reading…]