Opinion: This planet's on fire

Photo by Matthew Busch of The New York Times / First responders tend to a man in distress and showing signs of heat exhaustion near Town Lake Trail in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday July 20, 2022.

Now that "flash droughts" are a global reality, can we please address our growing climate crisis? Climate models that predicted extreme weather in about three decades from now are actually coming true this week. Yet the U.S. Supreme Court restricted the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

No wonder U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said, "The world's biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home the international abdication of leadership is criminal."

Some folks respond by making measured arguments for doing nothing. They're claiming that it's too expensive to take action when inflation is so high. So attempts to address the growing danger must be firmly rejected, according to people like Democrat Joe Manchin. Yes, Manchin is following the money, his money. He's a fossil-fuel mogul in the coal industry.

Super rich often look the other way when it comes to the climate crisis. Look at Hollywood icons such as Sylvester Stallone and Howie Mandel. Having paid all the fines that California placed on them, they're watering their acres relentlessly, endlessly. Can't say I'm sorry that California's residents are fed up with their hubris (and the state is cutting off their water).

Politicians and candidates are fighting against this supposed government tyranny with wild conspiracy theories. For example: Georgia GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker is urging Peach State citizens to vote for his climate conspiracy nonsense:"Since we don't control the air, our good air decided to float over to China's bad air, so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then now we got to clean that back up."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is even weirder. First, she says that global warming is a good thing: "This earth warming, and carbon, is actually healthy for us. It helps feed people, it helps keep people alive." In case you disagree, she then claims that global warming is a natural phenomenon so no use spending tax dollars trying to fix it.

Fox New personality Tucker Carlson is just as ridiculous in his defaming of climate activists. "They don't care about the environment ... America is getting much dirtier and there are Dollar Stores everywhere and people litter. So if you cared about the environment, maybe you clean up the environment, but instead they're lecturing us about climate."

Right. It's those Dollar Stores that killed off 2,000 Kansas cows that died of heat stress in soaring temperatures. Not buying the Dollar Stores excuse? Carlson and his buddies will try to convince you that the climate crisis is just a liberal hoax. As for that data about Earth warming 56% faster in the last 20 years than in the previous two decades? Just look away.

This isn't only about the climate. It's about power and who has it. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, a dissenter in the court's 6-3 conservative majority EPA decision, warned that in stripping the EPA of the power Congress gave it, "The Court appoints itself - instead of Congress or the expert agency - the decision-maker on climate policy ... I cannot think of many things more frightening."

Could a populist revolt counter the polluting do-nothings? We might start with a climate crisis anthem. Let's call on musicians to create something as memorable as "Burning Down the House" and "Ring of Fire."

Contact Deborah Levine, an author, trainer/coach and editor of the American Diversity Report, at deborah@diversityreport.com.