We have a long way to go before even fairly sophisticated members of the media understand what’s happening now and what’s coming if we don’t act soon (see Royal Society: “There are very strong indications that the current rate of species extinctions far exceeds anything in the fossil record”).
Brad Johnson has a telling example.
President Barack Obama’s pledge to forestall mass extinction from global warming is a laughing matter to NPR. Today, Morning Edition Steve Inskeep broke into guffaws of laughter as PolitiFact editor Bill Adair mocked Obama’s plan “to devote billions of dollars annually” to help “ensure that fish and wildlife survive the impacts of climate change.” Adair said he thought that meant supplying “air conditioners for bears,” considering the promise on par with the one Obama made about college football rankings:
INSKEEP: What are some of the more obscure promises on the campaign trail they said they were going to work on?
ADAIR: One we really enjoyed was the Obama promise to help species adapt to climate change. We decided that meant air conditioners for bears, which are probably not get funded now that Republicans are controlling the house.
INSKEEP: Did he misspeak? “Help species adapt”? Not not deal with climate change, but help species adapt to climate change.
ADAIR: Well, that’s what the promise said. He got very detailed in his policy statements on the campaign. It’s clear he was trying to appeal to very precise constituencies. And so we saw a lot of promises like that. My personal favorite was his promise was to push for a playoff system for college football.
Scientists estimate that around a quarter of the world’s species “” around a million different species “” will be committed to extinction by 2050 if global warming is unabated, and nearly 60 percent of new U.S. endangerment findings describe global warming as an extinction factor.
Despite Adair’s mockery, PolitiFact’s website fairly described the efforts by the Democratic congress to fulfill the president’s pledge. The House of Representatives passed language in the Waxman-Markey climate bill that reserved significant funding to assist species adaptation, and Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced legislation to create a Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund. The polluter-paid mechanism to fund this effort, a cap-and-trade market that limited carbon pollution, died in the Senate after vociferous opposition from Republicans. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) now plans to introduce legislation to prevent any arm of the federal government taking action to protect species against accelerating climate change from fossil fuel pollution.