By Gail Collins, NY Times
Let¹s consider the walrus crisis.
They¹re piling up in Alaska. About 35,000 walruses have formed what looks to
be a humongous brown ball along the northern coast. A mass of critters,
some weighing 4,000 pounds, are pressed shoulder to shoulder ‹ or flipper to
Normally, they¹d be sitting on chunks of ice, periodically flopping into the
water to hunt for snails and clams. But the ice has melted away, and now
they¹re stuck on land.
On the plus side, walruses are gregarious creatures who like to snuggle. The
situation is, therefore, less dire than it would be if you had 35,000
extremely large human beings squashed together on a beach, competing for
food. But they¹re nervous. ³A Russian friend of mine said he saw a rabbit ‹
or a tiny lemming ‹ come near and it caused a stampede,² said Margaret
Williams of the World Wildlife Fund.
³Then the little calves get squished. It¹s just so unnatural for them to be
so close to one another.²
I believe we all would rather see the baby walruses in happier
circumstances. Also, this is obviously the sign of worse things to come:
melting ice, higher sea levels, warmer oceans, screwed-up weather patterns.
How should we react? Several options:
A) Adopt a walrus family! If every town pitches in, we¹ll have this solved
in a minute. They can eat 6,000 clams in a single meal, so be sure to stock
B) Take this as a signal to get really serious about global warming.
C) Let¹s not get carried away. But maybe we could try to cut back on forest
fires. Forest fires definitely make things hotter.
The last one is a somewhat snarky adaptation of the climate-change portion
of an energy plan recently unveiled by Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, one
of the Republican Party¹s many, many current presidential hopefuls.
Louisiana does not suffer from a walrus problem. However, part of the state
is sinking into the sea at a rather rapid rate and you¹d think he¹d have
some strong feelings about global warming.
No sirree. Jindal thinks climate change is just a ³Trojan horse² for
leftists who want to mess with freedom of choice. But there is, you know,
the forest fire idea.
You¹d think that the people in charge of the states where climate change was
wreaking the most havoc would be in the forefront of the battle to push it
back. But no.
In Alaska, entire towns are beginning to disappear under the rising seas.
Roads are buckling as the permafrost starts to melt. Polar bears, which used
to like to hang out on those ice floes themselves, are land bound, hungry
and on the prowl.
Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, has been forthright about the terrible
impact climate change has had, while slightly dodgy about exactly what he
wants to do to about it. His opponent, Dan (³the jury¹s out²) Sullivan isn¹t
sure exactly what the heck is going on. He assured one Alaska newspaper that
³there is no concrete scientific consensus on the extent to which humans
contribute to climate change.²
Actually, there¹s a pretty good consensus. A vast, vast majority of climate
scientists say that human beings are causing all or part of the changes in
climate that are making life miserable for the walrus and destroying the
bayou country in Louisiana.
Also, causing the drains in Miami Beach to back up with saltwater, sending
the ocean running down the streets. Florida has its own Republican
presidential hopeful in Senator Marco Rubio. ³I do not believe that human
activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these
scientists are portraying it,² he told ABC News.
Think of the big donors to Republicans (see Koch Industries) and the cost to
those donors if Climate change is accepted. Then you’ll…
The solution to the Walrus issue is obvious. Hammer away at the “family
values” of walrus (walri?, walruses?).Raise the alarm with Mr. Gail, you’ve
nailed it again. I strongly suggest that readers interested in understanding
why many Republicans reject the reality of global…
(Jeb Bush is from Florida, too. For the record, Bush¹s opinion on global
warming is that it ³may be real.²)
There was a time when Republicans were leaders in the fight to slow climate
change ‹ particularly for the concept called ³cap and trade,² which had a
marketplace-friendly tilt. Among the co-sponsors of a cap-and-trade bill in
2007 was Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican of Alaska. Murkoswki had to
run for re-election as an independent in 2010, having lost her party¹s
nomination to a Tea Party favorite who complains about ³climate-change
These days, it takes courage for a Republican to acknowledge that human
beings have anything to do with climate change at all.
³If you felt that was a big problem, you would think everybody in the world
would be interested in going down this path, but I don¹t see any evidence of
it so far,² said the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, helpfully.
Pressed on the issue during a recent interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer,
the man who hopes to become majority leader of the Senate next year said
staunchly: ³I¹m not a scientist.²
Also on the record as not being a scientist: Rick Scott, the governor of
Florida, and Marco Rubio. Florida is absolutely awash in backed-up ocean
water and elected officials who are not scientists. Louisiana has a rapidly
receding coastline and a governor who¹s afraid of the energy industry.
Alaska has drowning villages and a political establishment in denial.
We are the walrus.