Many have observed the depletion of credibility in daily discourse – causing a disturbing decline in fact-based consensus.
Yet, without a fundamental sense of shared reality, how can we collectively – as a community, state, or nation – anticipate and respond to imminent threats and opportunities?
Perplexity about this predicament was renewed when I recently learned of terminology – accepted by a federal court – for describing a rocket explosion as a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.” This devious euphemism for an event threatening death and destruction epitomizes the abuse of language that accelerates the alarming abandonment of truth.
The impoverishment of facts that afflicts our political institutions has brought us to the brink of environmental destruction. Consider that science has verified the human causes of climate change for more than two decades, yet many elected officials still thwart actions to confront them, thereby propagating the serious consequences of rising temperatures.
Recent reports from authoritative sources reveal penalties for this reckless denial of climate disruption that are even more dangerous than anticipated.
- Polar-ice is melting much faster than predicted, threatening coastal inundation and massive human migrations.
- Species extinctions are alarming, ravaging nature more rapidly than at any period in millions of years.
- Oceans, absorbing over half of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, are yielding much-reduced food-supplies, as acidifying marine ecosystems falter.
Though surveys reported by Yale’s Climate Connections indicate a large majority of Americans prioritize climate issues, half of their Congressional representatives obstinately disagree.
All those whose priorities encompass the future of Planet Earth must do everything possible to build broad support timely, ambitious climate actions. Although economic incentives rewarding low-carbon investments are decisively improving, time is critical and markets alone cannot be counted on to achieve desired transitions that reduce greenhouse gases soon enough to prevent catastrophe – especially in the face of ongoing subversion of truth.
Contrary to the unscrupulous forces of opposition whose pretense is concern about “deficit spending,” the trillions of dollars proposed for investing in America’s infrastructure will be amply rewarded – and, in any case, such expenditures are vital, considering the dire consequences of failing to achieve decisive reductions in GHGs. Much of the funding required – and much more worldwide – must be spent to improve efficiency in the use of energy and to upgrade clean-power transmission networks that will catapult humanity into a sustainable, successful way of living.
Meanwhile, the feckless, partisan denial of facts will persist in seriously imperiling our democracy as well as our survival.
Just as the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, the cost of environmental negligence is disaster on a grand scale.