The United States has just about the only government left in the world that is hostile to the realities of global warming. The scientific consensus, that the globe is warming due to human activity, has been embroiled in party politics. There’s no false equivalency here, either. Turning global warming into a political fight is solely the responsibility of the Republican Party. Resistance to action to combat global warming is almost exclusively a Republican disease, and it affects everyone from donors, to legislators, all the way down to conservative voters. This is a huge problem considering that, until recently, the United States was the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, which are responsible for global warming.
But it gets worse. Ignoring the science isn’t enough for the Republicans. Instead, science, as part of that party’s general war on truth, has been cast as an evil conspiracy whose murky goals seem to include cratering the US economy. Why a secret cabal would want to do that is anyone’s guess, but in the worldview of the conspiracy-minded Republican voter, it probably has something to do with socialism. Either way, the findings of experts, stretching across decades, are readily dismissed by Republicans in service of short term goals.
Still, global warming is real, it is having an effect right now, and it will get worse. The world needs the United States to take a prominent position on mitigating global warming. What horrible, terrible, no good, rotten, very bad luck, then, that global warming has caused the polar vortex, an area of Arctic air, to descend over the United States for the past few winters.
Here in the northeast, and in the Midwest and the south, winter temperatures have been below average due to this phenomenon. In some places, this leads to temperatures below those in northern Alaska and the North Pole. The polar vortex is always there, but it took global warming to push it down over Canada and the continental United States.
Conditions could exist whereby the polar vortex descends down over Europe or Asia, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, it has dropped like a ton of bricks on top of the one country that has a political faction looking for any reason at all to deny global warming.
Our shortsighted Republicans and those who follow them don’t care about the science behind the polar vortex or any relation it may have to extreme weather events caused by global warming. They see the words ‘record cold’ in the news and use it as license to ignore the fact that while it is cold in a large swathe of the US, just about the rest of the planet is experiencing above average temperatures. But, again, that is a fact, and the GOP is not concerned with facts. When it’s winter, and it’s cold outside, they claim that as evidence that global warming isn’t real, or that it’s a hoax. But when summer comes around, and the news is filled with stories about dangerous heatwaves, or when wildfires burn huge chunks of the west, they are silent.
The planet would be doing life a big favor if, next winter, and for many, many winters thereafter, it kicked the polar vortex down over Siberia and let Washington DC get a little balmy.