Climate change is fueling extremism, raising tempers along with temperatures
Fifty years ago, in 1964, then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson, while addressing the nation from the White House, warned: “Some of our actions today will seem unwise to those who come after us, but we must be responsible stewards of the earth we love and the soul within us.” He cautioned, however, that “there can be no growth without sacrifice.”
Today’s politics are no less complex. But the issue of climate change — including its political implications — is a clear-cut issue of national importance. As a nation we are at the forefront of a global campaign to address the challenge of global warming and a growing recognition that human activity is the primary cause of the problem. It is now more vital than ever that we act on this issue in a coordinated global effort to mitigate the worst effects of global warming through actions such as reducing our own carbon dioxide emissions, shifting to energy sources that produce far less greenhouse gases, and supporting research into what causes global warming.
Climate change is fueling extremism over the long term. Extremists can and do use the issue as a justification to promote their own political agendas or even to attack their critics. The threat this poses to our democracy is very real and calls for action to counter the growing threat of the religious and political right. In the words of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey (2007-2009), “If there’s anyone who can take on a threat like this, it’s the United States.”
In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to ban the provision of American citizenship to foreign nationals who commit crimes that are related to terrorism. This House action by a majority of Republicans over the strong objections of a bipartisan majority of Democrats made clear that the right wing has a powerful weapon in the global warming debate.
In the case of global warming, the global right wing has been able to exploit the issue to advance its agendas. The right wing has also been able to gain political mileage by portraying climate change as an existential threat to civilization. Indeed, the right-wing message that global warming is a problem that we must address urgently is not new; it is as old as the science of climatology.
The threat of global warming and climate change has not gone away. The right wing has taken advantage of global warming