Newly installed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid a number of key issues on the line today moments after taking the gavel.
One of them is what she described as the most dangerous “existential threat” facing the nation: climate change.
Pelosi pledged to bring climate change back to the front of the nation’s attention, to the top of our national mind.
It has been pushed aside by Republicans who formerly ran the House, by those who continue to run the Senate and by the individual who sits in the Oval Office, Donald Trump, the president of the United States.
Trump has called climate change — formerly known colloquially as “global warming” — a “hoax.” His allies in Congress have bought into the Trump mantra. The president selected a key climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, to run the Environmental Protection Agency; another such denier, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is now the energy secretary; still another denier, Ryan Zinke, has just left his post as interior secretary.
Pelosi clearly understands what most Americans understand, that Earth’s climate is changing and the change is due largely because of massive amounts of carbon emissions being thrown into the atmosphere. That phenomenon, coupled with deforestation, is warming the planet’s temperature; the polar ice caps are melting; sea levels are rising; communities along our seas, gulfs and oceans are being placed in dire peril — not to mention what it’s doing to wildlife habitat.
Pelosi pledged today to return climate change to the front of the line. I wish her well. Whether this discussion produces legislation and a restoration of regulations aimed at curbing those emissions remain to be seen. The GOP still runs the Senate. The Republican president is still in office.
Whatever it is worth, and I hope it’s worth more than it might seem, Pelosi has the public on her side. Whether that’s enough to, um, turn the tide fills me with a bit of hope that this nation might take a proactive stance against this existential threat.