Is the zombie issue of climate change poised for a comeback?
Since the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation more than two years ago, climate change has seemingly vanished as a political issue. As it dropped in the polls of Americans’ concerns, so too did it vanish from the agenda of political leaders, and it was noticeably absent from the presidential debates.
But here are several reasons climate change may enjoy a renaissance as a top-tier item on the national agenda. First, more Sandys. As climate scientists predicted, the conditions for more frequent and severe “weather events” exist. The 100-year droughts and flood cycles have accelerated and are setting new records with alarming frequency.
Second, the human and economic costs of these climate disasters are now visible to Americans. (Hurricane Sandy had a measurable negative effect on the gross domestic product of one of the wealthiest areas in our country.) The impact is no longer confined to areas of the world most Americans can't see (the poles) or don't care much about (Australia and Africa). Third, those poles and Greenland are melting faster in some instances than even the pessimists had predicted. That means even higher sea levels and even worse effects from storms like Sandy. The North Pole will be visiting on more days than just Christmas in the future. Fourth, the president, after months of relative silence on the issue, has said he wants to have a national discussion about climate change. That's been necessary for a long time. It is now politically smart, too.