Did you enjoy Monday’s and Tuesday’s weather? Aren’t we lucky to have temperatures in the middle 90s, accompanied by high humidity, in mid-September?
My answers are “no” and “no.” I’m ready for cooler temperatures that are not accompanied by thunderstorms or remnants of one of this year’s many hurricanes. Eventually, I’ll get my wish, but that doesn’t mean I should stop thinking about why there is so much violent and extreme weather. My answer to the “why” is “climate change.”
If you ask friends and colleagues what the biggest problem facing the U.S. today is, some will say climate change, but they will be in the minority. I conducted my own informal, unscientific poll earlier this week. Among the answers I got were the pandemic, China, racism, greed, Republicans, Biden, and Trump.
Regular readers of my columns will be pleased to know that I don’t think Donald Trump is the biggest problem facing the U.S. He’s done and will continue to do a lot of bad things, but I don’t think he will ever put the Eastern Shore underwater. He may be a climate change denier, but that’s as bad as it gets.
I’m worried about climate change. Polls show that most Americans agree with me. A 2020 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 24 percent of us believe that climate change is affecting our local communities “a great deal.” Another 39 percent answered “some.” A full 65 percent told Pew that the federal government is not doing enough about climate change.
With these levels of concern about climate change Congress should be rushing to pass legislation addressing the problem. Of course, it isn’t. The Republicans are blocking passage of bills that include billions to address various aspects of climate change. Democrats condemn them for doing so, but haven’t proposed a bill reflecting climate change as our greatest problem. The Democrats’ bills address climate change, but also all kinds of other problems.
At the risk of angering my Democratic friends, I think it’s unfortunate that the sense of crisis over climate change isn’t great enough to convince both parties to put together and pass a bill exclusively focused on that problem. The opportunity for a bipartisan climate change bill has been squandered.
Here on the Eastern Shore, worry over climate change should be greater than it is nationally. Temperatures might rise in most of the country, but we must worry about rising water and progressively more dangerous weather. Do our elected representatives agree?
Our two Senators are solid Democrats with good records on addressing climate change, but neither is recognized as the loudest voice on the subject in Congress. The Maryland House delegation also has strong ratings on supporting environmental legislation, with one exception. Anyone want to guess who the outlier is?
One poll I recently read gave Bethesda’s Representative Jamie Raskin a 100 percent rating on environmental legislation. Andy Harris got a zero. Yes, a zero.
Is Andy Harris a climate change denier? Judge for yourself—here’s what he says on his website about his support for “the environment.” Also note that Harris doesn’t even discuss climate change directly.
It appears that Harris avoids open admissions of his doubts about climate change, especially in the last few years, but believes any solution must be developed with “all stakeholders” at the table. That means balancing the interests of watermen, business, hunters, and others in crafting solutions rather than recognizing climate change as a crisis that demands immediate emergency action. That may mean not negotiating with “all the stakeholders.” FDR did not negotiate with stakeholders before asking Congress to declare war on Japan in 1941.
Do you agree that climate change is a crisis? Should the Eastern Shore’s representative in the House of Representatives have a zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters? If you answer “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second, you have a problem.
Getting Andy Harris to take climate change seriously or getting him out of Congress is not the solution, but it would be part of one.
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, birds, and occasionally goldendoodles.