Now, I know that the title of this post probably sounds to some of you like rank partisan hyperbole. However, I mean it quite literally. And it's not because Mitt is evil. (Though, it is because he is Republican.)
Here's the reason. Mitt says this 2012 presidential election is about the economy. Actually, he says it is only about the economy. Most Republicans, and many Democrats, are right in sync with him on that opinion. Unfortunately, they are wrong.
The economy sags like a poorly whipped meringue, and millions of people fear for the loss of their livelihoods, yet in the wings of this presidential election, hardly mentioned, sits the issue that will stomp the meringue to mush, and bankrupt our entire future on this planet, not to mention half (or more) of all the other species with whom we share it.
New calculations show us we have a bare 5-10 years to make any closing argument we care to, in the great narrative of how we dramatically -- stupefyingly -- affected the climate in the 20th, and early 21st, century. Natural amplifications of our human contributions to the planet's Greenhouse Effect are about to kick in. As it stands, we will send the planet's average temperature soaring to 6-12º C above pre-industrial temperatures – a climatic situation Earth last recreated 30 million years ago. We may even see a condition of irreversible global warming, which will take us into the climatic end-game that the planet Venus has demonstrated for us.
In these next 5-10 years, the world has to not only reach the zenith of its fossil fuel burning, but severely reduce it as well...and that's just to keep temperatures within a very uncomfortable, but perhaps endurable, 3-4º C above pre-industry averages.
Whoever is president for the next 4-8 years will wield the executive clout to make that final argument. They will likely command Western Civilization's best hope at curbing our excesses. At the end of their term, the die will more or less be cast.
Now, consider Mitt Romney in this role. Mitt Romney is a dyed-in-the-wool business man. Even longtime close associates of his family admit that, whereas his father, Governor George Romney, was a natural leader, Mitt Romney is more of a manager – and maybe a middle manager at that. Then there's this: his election campaign is being bankrolled by the likes of billionaire carbon magnate William Koch (the third Koch brother), who considers the EPA “hyperaggressive” in going after carbon pollution. In return for securing him the presidency, Koch expects Romney to follow through with a personal promise to cripple agency regulation of greenhouse gases, if not to mortally wound it. How much access to a Romney presidency would these guys feel entitled to? Another billionaire funding Romney's campaign put it this way: “I would expect Mitt Romney to speak to me occasionally.”
Finally, there is Romney's stated stance on climate change: one of skepticism or denial. Oren Cass, Romney's domestic policy advisor, said, “[Romney] doesn't know the extent to which climate change is occurring or that human activity is causing it." The incredible thing about this is that, as governor, Mitt Romney was a leader in executive activism on climate change, and several of his advisors on the subject are now part of Obama's adminstration, trying to do something about global warming.
Mitt Romney as president would use our last years to officially doubt the existence of climate change, even though he is fully aware of its reality. Unless his true, liberal self is hiding inside the trojan horse of his new-found conservatism, Romney will not be our captain through the very difficult waters we have to navigate these next 5-10 years, if we are to stand a chance in the future. Unfortunately, Romney really does seem to believe that the economy – and, particularly, securing the freedom of every enterprising and somewhat unscrupulous businessman to get as much money as possible while he can – is the most important game at play on planet Earth at this moment.
Now consider a continued presidency of Obama. He is not Al Gore, when it comes to climate change. On the other hand, he was a community worker; he does have some firsthand experience of struggling uphill for a thankless cause. He, also, would be a second-term president, having “flexibility,” as he notoriously put it to Vladimir Putin, to “[make] something happen.” It is possible – especially if he really is the raving nutter radical that Republican pundits make him out to be – that he would have the gumption to do something really unprecedented, like declare martial law and issue an executive order allowing the seizure of assets from the carbon fuel companies.
So far, he, too, has been promising to proceed full-tilt into as many domestic drilling, fracking, mining opportunities as the under-budgeted EPA will allow. But it is (slightly) more plausible that Obama is pulling our leg, hiding in plain sight, and when push comes to shove, he will remember his message of hope, or at least the future of his daughters' generation, and do what needs to be done.