If you happened to notice, news reports on a study in the science journal Nature about the globe’s oceans warming faster than even most climate scientists had imagined should have been eye-opening and potentially devastating news. In another world, that study would certainly have made headlines across the country as the midterm elections bore down on us. We are, after all, talking about the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced. Yet its impact was essentially nil and no wonder. In the election season just past, Donald Trump was blocking the view when it came to almost anything else happening on this planet. And climate change? Well, we have the president’s own word that, even if it isn’t a hoax, it might not be “manmade” — and, in any case, is likely to “change back again” sooner or later (give or take a million years). So, to quote Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?”
No surprise, then, that the fossil-fuel-stoked nature of our changing planet wasn’t a significant national issue in election 2018, as it hadn’t been in the presidential campaign two years earlier. (There was not a single question about it in any of the three presidential debates that year.) True, in these midterms, a Washington state carbon tax that would have funded clean energy and air programs was shot down by the voters, thanks in part to the huge sums that the oil industry — in particular, BP America, Phillips 66, and Marathon Oil Corporation’s Andeavor, all with refineries in the state — sank into the campaign against it. Also true, some local House candidates raised climate change as an issue and generally won. Still, compared to immigration or health care this election season, the warming of this planet and what it portends for our children and grandchildren was on par with fear of zombies.
For those paying attention, this is frustrating indeed. Still, as TomDispatch regular John Feffer suggests today, the situation is simply too serious to let the frustration of it all — including the fact that our president and much of his party aren’t just climate-change deniers but enthusiastic aiders and abettors of the phenomenon — discourage those focused on doing something about it. And Feffer himself is a good example of that ongoing effort. This is publication day for his striking new dystopian novel, Frostlands (the sequel to his hit novel Splinterlands), and it has climate change directly in its crosshairs. Strange to say, but he’s proof of the adage (which I just invented) that in dystopia there lies hope. In that context, check him out on the “escape room” that we all now find ourselves in, whether we care to notice or not.