Okay, Republicans, I know you and I don't see eye-to-eye on much, but there's one thing we somehow gotta come onto common ground about, and that's climate change.
It's not so hard, really. Look, just repeat after me:
"We were wrong."
But those three words are still a bridge too far for most of the Republican leaders. In Tuesday night's debate, when asked if any of the eight participants accepted human-induced climate change, not a single hand went up. Vivek Ramaswamy was the most vocal, stating, "The climate change agenda is a hoax. The truth is that more people are dying of climate change policies than they actually are of climate change." Even the ones who are more moderate (on that issue, if nothing else), like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, still waffled about how it's all about messaging and policy.
No, it's fucking well not. It's about the long-term habitability of the planet, and you either know that and are lying about it, or else you're so catastrophically ignorant you shouldn't be running for public office.
Because you know what was going on outside that nice, air-conditioned hall in Milwaukee while the debate took place?
2023 has been the hottest year on record, by far. As I write this the central and southern parts of the United States are sweltering under a heat dome that is pushing temperatures and heat indices to record highs; Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana have been in the pressure cooker all summer. Southern California and Nevada just got walloped by a bizarre anomaly of a tropical storm, in some places dumping a year's worth of rain in twenty-four hours. Emperor penguins in Antarctica suffered a near-complete breeding failure because of melting sea ice, with no chicks surviving from four of the five established colonies. Wildfires are burning all over Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and the northern Rocky Mountain states. The ocean surface temperatures are off the charts -- one oceanographer called the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico "bath water" -- leading to widespread coral reef bleaching, and potentially, more powerful and frequent hurricanes for the storm season that is just beginning to ramp up. Droughts, famines, and wildfires have plagued such widely-separated locations as Greece, the Canary Islands, and Madagascar.
Any one of those things? Okay, that's "weather." Put them all together, and you know what you have?
So let's try it again, shall we, Republican candidates?
"We were wrong."
I get that it's not easy. We're hooked on fossil fuels, and that's both parties' faults; it's been far too long that American politics has been in the pockets of the petroleum industry. Solutions will be expensive and will require putting long-term common good ahead of short-term expediency. Nobody wants this situation, least of all the climate scientists, who've been screaming at us to for fuck's sake, do something, for forty years now.
But the time has come to stop pretending the problem isn't real. That means stating in so many words that anthropogenic climate change is happening, and has been happening ever since the start of the Industrial Revolution, just like the scientists have said all the way back to Svante Arrhenius in 1896. It means getting Fox News to stop lying to the public and calling it a hoax. It means admitting to the American people that okay, you misled them -- perhaps unintentionally -- but that stops today. It means finally standing up, saying that it's time to quit playing Partisan Laser Tag, and to band together and see if we can manage to do anything about this.
Because you know how 2023 is the hottest year on record? My guess is that if we continue to sit on our hands and snipe at each other, it no longer will be after next year. Or the year after that.
And for the eight people who got up in front of the entire world Tuesday night and still wouldn't say, straight out, that our actions have created this situation, it begins with those three little words.
"We were wrong."