This is how the Climate Apocalypse begins. Temperature records in the United States shattered. It is hot enough to be disastrous for human health. People are collapsing. Our brains and lungs cannot handle such heat. Pregnancies are compromised.
We are experiencing record megadroughts. Water shortages. Wildfires are blackening thousands upon thousands of acres. The air is literally sickening.
Farmers cannot water their crops — our food. AC systems are overwhelmed. There is no way for many people to cool down. Perversely, demand for power rises, and contributes to the pollution. We master new vocabulary to describe what’s happening. Polar vortex in the winter. In the summer: Heat domes: strong, high-pressure areas in which intense heat gets stuck.
But is it hot enough for Congress? Or for President Biden?
How bad do things have to get before our elected officials do what it takes to cut the pollution that has thrown our climate totally out of whack and brought us weather on steroids? What kind of a world are we creating — what fresh hells await our children and grandchildren?
President Biden and a group of Senators just announced a bipartisan deal on infrastructure. We had hoped for—and fought for—an infrastructure bill that seriously addressed 21st century needs—including the need to modernize and clean up old and inefficient electricity grids, a bill that set up a serious network of EV charging stations, a bill that reflected the knowledge that infrastructure is bigger than road and bridge repair. A bill that took into account that we cannot continue doing business as usual. Not with the climate emergency we are facing. We did not get that bill.
Some say we should be optimistic. President Biden—and Speaker Pelosi—are “promising” that they will not pass or sign this bill without a companion reconciliation bill, a budgeting maneuver that will, or at least should, include funding for climate solutions, and be passed with a simple majority, and therefore not dependent on Republican votes.
McConnell and other Republicans immediately announced that a two-part deal is a non-starter.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is one of the 21 senators who negotiated the bipartisan infrastructure deal. He tweeted: “If reports are accurate that President Biden is refusing to sign a bipartisan deal unless reconciliation is also passed, that would be the ultimate deal breaker for me.” McConnell has threatened the same.
And ultimately, what Senator will be able to turn down the chance to send home billions of dollars for road repair — even if it means ignoring climate concerns and abandoning the reconciliation part of the deal.
So: Some Democrats are saying, “No Climate, No Deal.”
Some Republicans are saying, “Climate? No deal.”
To this mother, it sounds like playing games with our lives.