Some of us in the climate-action camp have long believed that if common sense and sound science were not enough to end denial over global warming, nature would eventually do the job. Unfortunately, that path to recognizing reality leaves a lot of victims in its wake.
The millions of home and business owners victimized by Hurricane Sandy -- and the billions of dollars that will be needed to recover -- are demonstrations of how much climate denial costs. But after years of extreme weather events in the United States and worldwide, Sandy is hardly the only hard evidence that climate change is here.
Because they have blocked national policies to slow down greenhouse gas emissions, to remove public subsidies for fossil fuels and to put a price or a cap on carbon, climate deniers and those who fund them must take responsibility for the fact that perfect storms are the new normal and will be for generations and centuries to come. People are dying. Homes are swept away. Businesses are shut down, often for good. Federal spending on disaster assistance is rising. With the impact of past carbon emissions still in the pipeline and yet to be felt, it will get worse.
Still, one presidential candidate promises to implement a national energy policy that panders to oil and coal while the other hasn't had much to say about what we should do to manage the obvious risks of global warming.
Perhaps we shouldn't care what the rest of the international community thinks about us, or how our children will judge us, but one has to wonder what respect the United States and the current generation of adults can expect when its actions are controlled by the insatiable greed of carbon industries and the ridiculous influence of political leaders who contend that climate science is really a socialist plot to take away our SUVs.
It is long past time to recognize that when it looks like a climate duck, and it walks like a climate duck, and it quacks like a climate duck, and our best scientists conclude that it is indeed a climate duck, it's a climate duck, not Chicken Little.
With the election only a few days away and despite early voting, we have to hope it's not too late for voters to elect a president and members of Congress who will not stand by, or be bought off, or allow boneheaded denial to continue while weather made more dangerous and costly by climate change makes victims of us all.
Follow William S. Becker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sustainabill