It's already here. Not far in the future. Climate affecting politics and disaster relief, that is.

The most recent political skirmish in DC was over $1.6 billion in disaster relief funding. The GOP was working to turn this into a political negotiating tool to extract other concessions. It didn't end up making much difference, and the political blogosphere saw it as more examples of dysfunctional government.

I, however, see it as not only that, but also a canary-in-the-coal-mine moment. As the future of climate change bears down on us faster than anyone was expecting, disasters like this year's (9 $1-billion+ disasters already this year) are going to require more and more emergency funding. Eventually these disasters are going to require much bigger political decisions than what we see now. Remember, Nicolas Stern predicted that climate change could take up to 20% off global GDP. That's not only a huge hit on available resources, but there will also be enormous costs to actually deal with the floods, droughts, storm surges and other direct effects of warming-enhanced events.

If our government is already unable to marshal the modest resources to deal with this year's disasters, just wait. Undoubtedly, climate change is going to affect politics enormously, exactly how is difficult to predict. But the populace is going to demand government step in and help more and more and more as the catastrophes get bigger and bigger and bigger. This is exactly what current conservatives, Tea Partiers and others fight against: more, bigger government. Yet it is these same conservatives who are battling efforts to do anything about it, thereby assuring that government will have to grow to deal with the outcomes. Cruel, and sad, irony.

No comments:

Post a Comment