Sunday, December 20, 2009

Is She Willing to Risk It?

Recently, Sarah Palin stated her belief that global warming was the result of junk science. Here is my response to her.

Most days of the week, we can assume that Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and former VP candidate, is a politician "on the make". It is difficult to know what she might really believe underneath her rhetoric so clearly constructed to feed the frenzy of her base supporters. She is clearly willing to turn her back on the devastating environmental impacts that await us because it is politically expedient for her to do so.

Despite her other antics, I for one have never doubted that she loves Alaska. And so I wonder whether she is willing to risk her beloved home state in order to work the rank-and-file rhetoric about global warming? Unlike most of the United States, Alaska is already showing signs of disruptive change as a result of higher temperatures. While the rest of the world has seen a 1 degree farenheit temperature increase in the last 50 years, Alaska has seen a 4 degree farenheit increase.

Here within our national boundaries, but beyond the eyewitness view of most of us, changes in surface water , permafrost, sea ice, bacterial levels in seafood, and patterns of insect infestations are examples of global warming's impact on the natural world that certainly have economic and social impacts for the people and wildlife of Alaska.

People (and polar bears) are losing their livelihood before our eyes in our own country. Yet, Palin is playing politics.

In China and India where most of the world's people live, they don't have to worry about hungry people and polar bears as a future threat. Hungry people are a living reality for them right now. Our reaction to the struggle of polar bears is so visceral because we know that we are going to watch them slowly starve to death, and we feel responsible. Today, the leaders of China and India are responsible for vast numbers of people living with chronic malnutrition every day and they need to address it.

Politicians in America understand that in a world facing global warming, and the development needs of countries like China and India, the Untied States faces very big changes in how we operate. Our economic self-interest is quite literally tangled up in the vast moral dilemma of global warming.

Most of us are not living where the impact of rising global temperatures are producing visible disruption. It is easy for us to ignore the moral pressure to change (and fast!). Palin has a first class view of global warming. Let's hope that someday soon she abandons manipulative politics and steps up to be a real leader on a matter of profound concern for her beloved state of Alaska and the world.

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