TW: climate change denialism, marginalization and erasure of indigenous people
I’m feeling unwell, so I’m going to keep today’s post short and sweet. You may have watched last night as Romney said, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet; my promise is to help you and your family.” The sarcastic deliverance of the first portion of that line was, of course, met with thunderous applause. Even if you didn’t directly hear the speech, you may have already hear some of the liberal responses to it, including Chris Hayes’ warning that that piece of Romney’s speech and the audiences response would “be in documentaries as a moment of just ‘what-were-they-thinking’ madness.”
The irony, which is mainly being reported in the British press at the moment, is that two days prior, the arctic ice sheet reached a historic minimum in terms of size. This is not only a pressing issue rather than, as Romney seems to imply, a trivial issue disconnected from the well-being of Americans, but it’s a pressing issue because of its current impacts – on Americans at this very moment, and even in years past.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post noted that increasing difficulties faced by indigenous communities in hunting game and fishing force them to rely on imported foods, which are often not only less nutritive, but prohibitively expensive. Likewise, an extensive study from earlier this year noted that “[c]hanging water levels, fish movement patterns, and weather conditions all create challenges for local harvesters to meet [indigenous Alaskans’] subsistence needs.” The thawing of the Arctic is negatively impacting the food security of many Alaskans at this very moment.
The only way Romney and the Republican Party can be so woefully misinformed as to believe that the effects melting and rising oceans are not already impacting American families’ quality of life is that they either willfully ignorant or willfully callous. They only explanation is that they have dismissed the years of reporting on how climate change is harming Alaskans, particularly indigenous Alaskans, or that they have dismissed the problem as primarily affecting people of color that they do not see as “real” Americans. Given that not one but two other speeches at the Republican National Convention repeated the lie that Obama has stripped welfare of its work components, there likely answer seems to be that both an ignorant denial of reality and patent racism are prompting one major political party to embrace horrible policies.