Tierra Enferma

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Look, if you want action on climate change, it’s best to support a progressive candidate.

But if you want old guys to rant in Congress about how evil the Green Deal is — and to display pictures of Ronald Reagan firing a machine gun while riding on the back of a dinosaur – well, then I’ve got a political party for you.

Yes, we all know the Republican Party has long denied the existence of global warming. But that ideological stance, which has long hit the sweet spot between appalling ignorance and mind-boggling denial, is wavering. This is because overwhelming scientific data, personal experience, and the influence of young GOP moderates are all merging to make the conservative dismissal of climate change as antiquated as floppy disks and mall hair.

In fact, recent polls show that “a surging number of Americans understand that climate change is happening and believe that it could harm their family and the country.” Even a slight majority of Republicans understand that climate change is a real problem, and not something Hollywood celebrities just made up for the hell of it.

Of course, whenever Republicans admit, through gritted teeth, that the Earth is maybe, possibly, heating up, they suggest solutions like “having more American babies to save the planet from climate change.”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that crowding even more people onto the planet will only make things worse, but thanks for trying.

In any case, the effects of climate change have already begun. And as usual whenever something terrible occurs politically, economically, or sociologically, it is Latinos who get hit hard.

You see, “much migration from Central America and, for that matter, around the world, is fueled by climate change.”

For example, in my family’s homeland of El Salvador, up to 28 percent of the coastline may disappear by the end of the century, due to rising sea levels. Once that happens, it’s a fair question to ask what happens to the people who live near the coast. Yes, they will need to move — to migrate — somewhere.

Elsewhere in Latin America, rising sea levels are “destroying the mangrove forests, the marine life that relies on them, and thus the fishermen who rely on that marine life to feed themselves and eke out a meager economy.”

In essence, climate change may make summers in Kansas more uncomfortable, but it will positively fuck up Central America.

But of course, this is not the first time that Latinos have had an adversarial relationship with climate change. For example, a mere 500 years ago, “European colonizers killed so many indigenous Americans that the planet cooled down.”

Think about that: Columbus and his pals wiped out so many New World natives that the entire Earth felt the chill. You see, a new study shows that when the Europeans brought war, enslavement, and smallpox to the Americas, the result was a death toll that represented about 10 percent of the world’s population at the time, or “more people than the modern-day populations of New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Beijing combined.”

Researchers believe that following such a drastic population decline, “large swaths of vegetation and farmland were abandoned. The trees and flora that repopulated that unmanaged farmland started absorbing more carbon dioxide and keeping it locked in the soil, removing so much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere that the planet’s average temperature dropped by 0.15 degrees Celsius.”

As if slaughtering millions of indigenous people weren’t bad enough, the European explorers created an actual blizzard from their bones.

But ultimately, whenever people talk about the Earth dying, or the planet being in crisis, or some other terminology that implies Mother Nature is suffering, it is misleading.

Because the Earth is merely a big rock, without feelings or desires. For the first billion years of its existence, it went from molten lava to airless sphere, devoid of life. And the Earth wasn’t suffering then. And it won’t be suffering if it heats up and wipes humanity off its surface. It is indifferent to our strong drive to keep living and to thrive and to savor all the joys of existence.

Unfortunately, far too many humans share this indifference.

 

Featured image: Coffee rust (Howard F. Schwartz/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org)

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