So few public figures who are not scientists or environmentalists speak out on climate change these days that it is noteworthy when one does. MSNBC’s Martin Bashir show had a segment a few weeks ago on “The political legacy of Hurricane Irene” with historian Douglas Brinkley, author of “The Great Deluge,” about Katrina and New Orleans.
Bashir asked Brinkley whether Obama’s failure to mention climate change was an opportunity that’s been missed. Brinkley’s answer was quite solid for someone whose specialty is not climate:
I’ve often said that future generations, which of course include future historians, will judge Obama (and Bush and all current political leaders) harshly for inaction on climate change. How could they not when they will be suffering through multiple catastrophes post-2040 that could have been prevented or seriously reduced — widespread Dust-Bowlification; multi-feet sea level rise followed by SLR of 6 to 12+ inches a decade until the planet is ice free; massive species loss; the ocean turning into large, hot acidified dead zones; and ever-strengthening superstorms that bring devastation to country after country that equals or surpasses what has happened to Texas, large parts of the East Coast, Moscow and Pakistan and Nashville and New Orleans (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2“).
After calling on Obama to deliver “a presidential prime time address on global warming,” Brinkley, who has authored and edited books on Ronald Reagan, compares Obama’s inaction on climate to Reagan’s on AIDS. He says “you see President Obama at this juncture needing to lead on the global warming issue.”
Brinkley goes on to say:
You know I’m here in Austin right now and it’s 109 degrees. All over the country, in the Great Plains, there’s drought, there’s wildfires that have been going on in New Mexico, there’s a lot of unprecedented weather patterns going on here. We all know the word global warming, but only the president has a security documents.
So I would urge President Obama … sometime within the, say, next half a year, come to the American people and say I came into office giving a lot of speeches about global warming, here’s what we know about it and here’s some of the things we might have to do with the future to make America safe.
If you listen to the entire interview, then you heard Bashir say that when he interviewed Bill Nye the science guy, Nye was supposedly “absolutely clear that hurricanes like this were the result of climate change.”
As you can guess, Nye didn’t quite say that. Here’s that interview: