Discover more from Letters from an American
July 26, 2023
Yesterday a team of international researchers confirmed that human-caused climate change is driving the life-threatening heat waves in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. has broken more than 2,000 high temperature records in the past month, and it looks like July will be the hottest month on Earth since scientists have kept records.
Another study published yesterday warns that the Atlantic currents that transport warm water from the tropics north are in danger of collapsing as early as 2025 and as late as 2095, with a central estimate of 2050. As Arctic ice melts, the cold water that sinks and pulls the current northward is warming, slowing the mechanism that moves the currents. The collapse of that system would disrupt rain patterns in India, South America, and West Africa, endangering the food supplies for billions of people. It would also raise sea levels on the North American east coast and create storms and colder temperatures in Europe.
On Sunday and Monday, the ocean water off the tip of Florida reached temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius), the same temperature as an average hot tub. According to the Coral Restoration Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Florida’s Key Largo that works to protect coral reefs, the hot water has created “a severe and urgent crisis,” with mortality up to 100%. The Mediterranean Sea also hit a record high this week, reaching 83.1 degrees Fahrenheit (28.4 Celsius).
An op-ed by David Wallace-Wells in the New York Times today noted that more land burned in Quebec in June than in the previous 20 years combined; across Canada, more than 25 million acres burned. And most of Canada’s fire season is still ahead.
Professor Ian Lowe of Australia’s Griffith University told The Guardian that he recalled reading the 1985 report that identified the link between greenhouse gasses and climate change, and worked to draw public attention to it. “Now all the projected changes are happening,” he said. “I reflect on how much needless environmental damage and human suffering will result from the work of those politicians, business leaders and public figures who have prevented concerted action. History will judge them very harshly.”
Former vice president Mike Pence, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, today unveiled his economic proposal. It calls for eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency and the Biden administration’s incentives designed to address climate change.
In that, he is in line with Republican lawmakers. Earlier this month, Mike Magner in Roll Call noted that at least four of the bills released so far by the House Appropriations Committee for 2024 include cutting funding to address climate change that Congress appropriated in the Inflation Reduction Act. Project 2025, which has provided the blueprint for a Trump presidency, says “the Biden Administration’s climate fanaticism will need a whole-of-government unwinding,” and calls for more use of fossil fuels.
A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Columbia University says that court cases related to climate change have more than doubled in five years. Thirty-four of the 2,180 lawsuits have been brought forward on behalf of children, teens, and young adults.
And therein lies a huge problem for today’s Republican Party. A recent poll of young voters shows they care deeply about gun violence, economic inequality, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate change. All of those issues are only becoming more prominent.
And speaking of young people and the problems Republicans are having with that generation, I have only one other observation tonight, as I am spending this week reading the audiobook for the new book and am truly exhausted. It appears that the administration is pushing back on the attempts of states like Florida to whitewash our history by providing historical recaps in its press releases.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the desegregation of the armed forces by President Harry S. Truman in 1948, and the White House statement celebrating that anniversary did more than acknowledge it and praise today’s multicultural military. It recounted the history of Black service members from the American Revolution to the present.
It covered the Black regiments that fought in the Civil War to preserve the United States and defend their own freedom; the highly decorated Harlem Hellfighters of World War I who fought in France as part of the French army because American commanders would not have them alongside white units; the Tuskegee Airmen who flew 15,000 missions in World War II but returned home to discrimination and oppression.
It then went on to call out the women and men of color who have served in the U.S. military, including the Indigenous Code Talkers, who turned native languages into an unbroken code during World War II while their people were losing their lands; the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team of Japanese Americans who fought in Europe even as their families were incarcerated in camps in the United States; the 65th Infantry Regiment of Puerto Rican soldiers in the Korean War, known as the Borinqueneers, who were court martialed as a group when their commander was replaced by a non-Hispanic officer.
Taken with yesterday’s quite comprehensive history of the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Black child Emmett Till, it seems as if the White House has found a simple way to push back on the whitewashed history taught in places like Florida: making the country’s real history easily available.
Project 2025, Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Institute, 2023).