Why We Can't Ignore Climate Change

Hurricane Sandy was a warning, writes Patricia J. Williams in the Nation, that we have to pay attention to and take action on climate change.

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Hurricane Sandy's destructive path on the East Coast shouldn't be dismissed as "crazy weather," urges Columbia law professor Patricia J. Williams in the Nation. Instead, Americans and our leaders must seek out ways to tackle climate change head-on, or we'll all be the victims of Mother Nature's angry fists.

... "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet," [Romney said in response to Obama's promises to address climate change], smirking and rolling his eyes while the audience roared with derisive laughter. "My promise ... is to help you and your family."

In truth, Obama's track record of planetary healing hasn't been all that great. But it was Romney's sneering dismissiveness of the very thought that revisited me as Hurricane Sandy howled into New York City. I've had the same shudder of alarm during every hurricane over the last decade, regardless of who's in charge, for the political absurdity feels as huge as the tragedies themselves: George W. Bush's consulting with oil executives to develop climate change policy. Enduring indifference to American infrastructure. Sarah Palin's anthem of "Drill, baby, drill!" The United States' failure to sign on to even the weakest of climate change conventions, like the Kyoto Protocol.

Meanwhile, the last two decades have seen a pattern of planetary fever and chills. Studies establish that human activity is causally related to the melting of the Arctic ice, the collapse of fish stocks and the rapid rates of extinction within all classes of life forms. It's not a question; it is fact.

Read Patricia J. Williams' entire piece at the Nation.

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