Campaign issues are beginning to round into shape for 2016. The economy, healthcare and terror are 21st century perennials, but poverty, the middle class/income equity and climate change are making strong early appearances. They will all require the candidates to dance and contort (and consort and cavort) in interesting ways -- kind of like the current vax/anti-vax kerfuffle, but bigger. This column will concern the surprising emergence (finally!) of climate change/warming as a focus of the electorate.
Specific atmospheric concerns have been around since the emanation of opaque air in The Los Angeles (there are mountains to the east?) and the Antarctic ozone hole of the 1970s. Global warming warnings followed soon thereafter. Their potency has been compromised, however, by our cultural ADD, the slow progression of the problem, a concerted campaign of disinformation and the inability of Science to speak in unequivocal sound bites. There's also a bit of evangelical selective-scripturing mixed in there, and was it Will Rogers who suggested that folks are hard to convince of things when their paychecks suggest that they should believe something else?
But whether it's the continuing onslaught of confirming statistics or superstorms, a recent Stanford/NYTimes/Resources for the Future poll suggests that the populace now places priority on government action, to a vote-altering extent. 83% of us believe that if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global warming will become "a very or somewhat serious problem in the future." More importantly, 74% believe that the federal government should be working to address the problem . And perhaps most important: that figure now includes 51% of Republicans.
Further, currently 48% of GOP voters say they're more likely to vote for a candidate who favors governmental action to combat climate change, and conversely ? they'd vote against a candidate who calls it a hoax (corresponding Dem and Independent voters comprise very strong majorities on those same points). So perhaps the era of deflection ("not a scientist") and denial are coming to an end ? it'll be fascinating to see what solutions the candidates espouse (cap-and-trade was, after all, a favored, market-based approach before it was transobamafried into the Worst Thing Ever).
But wait, there's more! It turns out that somebody died -- and they really did make YOU boss. Here's a semi-simple-to-use (even a lawyer can do it!) Global Ccalculator that puts you in change of global climate policy! It gives you some forty policy variables to control, and calculates the impact of those choices on world temperature, circa 2050. It's practically a video game for wonkers.
Recognizing that much of the sow has already departed the gestation crate, a goal of warming 2 degrees Celsius over that period has been established as about the best we can hope-for (that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, BTW). If nothing is done, the model predicts a disastrous 3+C/6-degree F rise. So, see what you can do, Boss, and how it affects the world many of us hope to still inhabit at mid-century. You can compare, save and share your results in the Comments, there amongst the inevitable last, desperate death rattles of the climate deniers.
My own cursory shot at it met the 2-degree goal with a 50% probability, and a whole lot of effort. I emphasized variables like achieving slow population growth, consuming less meat (especially methane-emitting bovines), and relying on technology in new and renewables industries to reduce and convert fuel use and CO2 generation. My own private climate was, however, pretty ambitious and costly vs. the status quo.
The population demographics effects are obvious. I was surprised, though, at the size of the dietary impact. Sadly, Bossie's gotta go, or perhaps technology (bovine Beano?) can render her less flatulent? My relative reliance on technology stems from my own industriaI-sector career experience, wherein we would typically rail against the disastrous economic consequences of some regulation. Then the trusty engineers would be turned-loose on it, beat the mandated deadline, and save money to-boot. At that point, of course, the achievement would find its way into our commercials ? as if we'd invented it out of a sense of good corporate citizenship. I chose greater impacts from newer industries, as they typically have more potential to improve.
Anyway, it's fun to fool around with it, so take your shot! Let us know how you did ? and drop a line to your favorite candidate's campaign, as well.