Opinion: Climate change

POSTED: 05/15/14 12:52 PM

The Nature Foundation issued its climate change report smack in the middle of a media hype about the topic. “A White House report says that global warming is threatening every part of the US,” CNN reported.

“This is not something in the distant future,” President Barack Obama said. “Climate change is already affecting us now.”

On his HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight John Oliver jumped on the topic with gusto. Funny or not, humor is an excellent tool to get even the most dramatic news across to the most ignorant audience.

Oliver, with his thick British accent something of an oddity on American cable TV, said that Obama’s focus on the fact that climate change is affecting us now is an important shift in the debate.

“We have all been repeatedly asked – don’t you want to leave a better earth for your grandchildren? And we have all collectively responded, mwah, fuck em,” Oliver said.

Just in case readers are falling over this quotation, because it contains an offensive four-letter word, we’d like to add that Oliver’s use of it is entirely justified because it describes in a powerful way how lame the world’s response to climate change has been so far. Let’s stick with the issue, okay?

Oliver showed a clip from a TV-show on MSNBC where a woman referred to a Gallop-report claiming “that the issue is being exaggerated.”

We won’t repeat all the four-letter words Oliver used to make his point (there’s simply too many of them and they are distracting) but he did say that nobody should care about that report. “We do not need people’s opinions about facts. You may as well have a poll on the question, which number is bigger, 15 or 5, do owls exist or, are there hats?”

The debate should not be about whether climate change exists, but about what we should do about it, Oliver continued.

Oliver also had a clear message for findings that one out of four Americans are skeptical about global warming. “The only accurate way to report this is saying that one out of four Americans are wrong about something.”

A survey among thousands of scientists showed that 97.1 percent of them endorse the position that the actions of humans are causing global warming. And yet, Oliver humorously noted, discussions on TV about the issue are out of whack, because they usually show a host with one proponent and one opponent of this position.

Oliver found a solution for that: in his show, he put one skeptic of the global warming phenomenon with two sidekicks and then let 97 “scientists” run onto the scene to represent those who accept global warming as a fact.

It was funny, but it was also an impressive display of the prevailing opinion about something that might give Sint Maarten very wet feet in the near future. It might destroy life as we know it today, wipe out all of our beaches, our airport, and our cruise facilities – and thereby basically stab our economy to death.

Oliver hit the nail on the head with this simple remark: what are we going to do about it? St. Maarten should not expect the world to come to its rescue when the sea takes possession of our infrastructure. Then what?

Is this scenario so black that St. Maarten will never get to celebrate its first centennial as an autonomous – or maybe by that time independent – nation? Who is going to come up with a plan to save the country?

We figure that we should not count on our esteemed Members of Parliament. They sat almost four years on a piece of legislation they had approved themselves before they woke up and decided that they did not like it. We are referring here of course to the Election Ordinance.

MPs attempted to put the blame on Prime Minister Wescot-Williams for “dumping” this legislation on them shortly before the elections, while in fact they had not been paying attention for a very long time.

Likewise, we get an image in our mind of MP Louie Laveist (feel free to replace him with your favorite politician) with the seawater reaching his lips, shouting to the prime minister something like, why did you not tell us about this?

The truth of the matter is that St. Maarten will lose land surface and this means that the already densely populated island will suffocate under the pressure of its population, or that people will massively leave for places where they are able to keep their feet dry.

Those who stay behind are not at the helm of a sinking ship, but they are facing a daunting challenge. They will have to deal with the consequences of our behavior and decisions. And with they, we refer to the children of our children’s children. Because they do not exist right now, they have no right to vote. Therefore, we expect that the current crop of politicians – with the occasional exception – will adhere to the mentality John Oliver expressed earlier in this article in that sentence with the four-letter word. Sad but true.



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