This week sees President Joe Biden traveling the country to promote climate-related infrastructure priorities, another move to pressure the House and Senate to get a move on with a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill designed to make actual structural progress toward halting the climate change now made visible after a grim year of climate-fueled disasters.
Monday’s stop was at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, where The Washington Post reports Biden was met with “hundreds” of Idaho Trump supporters outside the gates boosting election hoaxes, pandemic outrage, and what-have-you. Sure, why not. I’m sure many to most of those people genuinely believe that all our catastrophic fire problems will be solved if everybody takes a rake out to the nearest patch of wilderness and cleans the place up a bit.
The Post report has precisely two quotes from senators grumpy about Biden’s climate change agenda, if “climate change agenda” is the term we’re now using for “would rather not lose the majority of Florida and most major coastal cities to catastrophic sea rise while everything from Los Angeles to Kansas gets burned to a crisp and portions of America’s Southeast become largely uninhabitable during the summer months due to combinations of heat and humidity that the human body is not constructed to withstand.”
The first is West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin. The second is Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barasso. That the pair represent the two states still trying to squeeze out as much atmosphere-altering coal as can be mustered before their product goes the way of asbestos, cocaine in sodas, or leaded gas is no doubt entirely coincidental. That they are especially aggrieved over the climate protection plan’s push to give financial bonuses to energy schemes that are not “use more coal” is probably also a coincidence. Certainly, it’s not because the states and lawmakers most beholden to suicidal energy choices would rather send the rest of the world spiraling into catastrophe than protect their own status quo. Nobody’s that much of a monster.
Well, except in Texas. In Texas, energy-tied lawmakers would sooner use their constituents’ ragged corpses as tire chains than go against oil firms. They’re about one drunken weekend away from passing new laws offering up $10,000 bounties for turning in anyone whose tailpipe isn’t billowing soot on their morning commute.
The point of Biden’s travels is to emphasize that dealing with climate-related disasters is not something that can wait. The air in northern California has been ash-colored for months as new massive fires work their way across obstacles once thought impervious. New York and New Jersey are yet again dealing with flooding from the remnants of a hurricane that landed half a continent away. Floods, storms, megadrought, collapsing aquifers, collapsing electrical grids—each year brings increasingly expensive and widespread disasters after the nation attempted to dodge both preparation and responsibility for what was coming.
At every point in the climate crisis, preparing in advance would have given massive financial advantages when compared to dealing with the aftermath. We’re now at the point where dealing with the aftermath is the only path left. Today we are facing the heat, drought, and strengthened storms climate science warned of. The Biden backed plan is, literally, an attempt to tread water and keep things from getting much worse.