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Our Warming Planet

Ignoring The Impact Of Burning Carbon Fuels

By James Donahue

It seems that all of the political hype on our television and computer screens this year has been designed to keep the people in America from getting concerned about the real issue at hand . . . climate change.

As the presidential candidates and the media have been leap-frogging from place to place across the land, they seem to not have noticed the constant and extreme heat wave that set record temporatures nearly everywhere. They stopped in Witchita, Kansas to visit the disaster stricken city after at least five killer tornadoes marched across Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa during a single storm front that swept the midwest in April.

Emergency generators were kicked into service in federal government buildings after storms packing hurricane-force straight-line winds swept Washington and the East Coast, and there was that strange sweep of powerful thunderstorms in June that the weather people called a "derecho." It packed winds of nearly 100-miles-per-hour as it moved from Ohio to the East Coast, leaving a 700-mile trail of destruction. At least 13 people were killed and 2.5 million people lost power for days during the sweltering heat.

Then there was Hurricane Isaac that touched the southern tip of Florida and delayed the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa before it entered the Gulf of Mexico and caused extensive flooding along the coast.

As they flew over and into drought-stricken farm areas in the midwest, and stood sweating in the intense heat, we wonder how President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney could have ignored the extreme weather surrounding them.

Now, as the presidential election date draws near, Americans are shocked to be facing rising food prices at the grocery stores and looming shortages of the foods they have long taken for granted. The drought, the flooding, and storms took their toll this year on the grains, the fruit and many of the vegetables American farmers have been faithfully producing.

At the same time this is happening, the scientific community was expressing grave concern at the speed by which the arctic ice cap was disappearing and there were warnings that the climate changes occurring not only in the U.S., but all over the world in 2012, were going to get much worse as the planet continued warming. Not only was carbon monoxide increasing in the atmosphere, but an even more potent greenhouse gas, methane, also has been on the rise. It seems that as the ice caps melt and the oceans warm, more and more trapped methane from the ocean floor is being released. And this is accelerating the warming.

Both Obama and Romney are campaigning on issues of taxation, unemployment, medicine, the war, Medicare, and Social Security. Why are they ignoring the elephant in the room?

Romney gave us the answer during the October 3 debate. He said that if elected he would support the oil and coal industries and give them priority over investments in green energy technology. It was that kind of thinking by the last Republican president, George W. Bush, that brought eight long years of stagnation in the desperately needed shift to cut carbon emissions and move ahead in alternative energy research.

We were happy when President Barack Obama pressed for more government investments in high speed rail, solar panel manufacturing and other green energy projects. But Mr. Obama has not had the cooperation of the House and Senate in getting his budget proposals approved. We suspect that if he has received big financial support from the oil and coal companies, Mr. Obama may not have the will to stand up and openly campaign for the kind of change that is so desperately needed in America and the world.

Because of the big money support the candidates desperately need to conduct the multi-billion dollar campaigns just to get elected, they all have to be sold out to big corporate interests that are financing the whole dog and pony show. We can be sure that big oil and big coal is right in the middle of it.

And this explains why the very subject of climate change and what the candidates want to do about it is literally "off the table" throughout this campaign season.

Some states are taking matters into their own hands. They have passed laws mandating wind and solar energy systems to be incorporated into the electric grid. We notice a similar proposition going before voters in Michigan in November is being heavily fought by cleaver television advertising which we are sure is financed by the oil and coal industries.

The debate over the dangers of the carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere has been raging for too long. Former Vice President Al Gore was blatantly scoffed by political and civic leaders when he produced his controversial documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" in 2006. Now it seems that more and more people are realizing that Mr. Gore was right and they should have been doing something about this serious problem. We still had time in 2006. Now it may bne too late.