Just a bit more than five weeks ago, the RV Industry Association demonstrated either its hypocrisy or its gullibility by presenting its “National Legislative Award” to Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The association justified this astonishing misstep by claiming that Manchin “recognizes that investments in outdoor recreation are vital to our economic, emotional and societal well-being,” those “investments” devoted largely to the “recreation” half of the “outdoor recreation” dyad.
The “outdoor” half? Not so much.
Indeed, as I posted June 10, Manchin arguably is the one person most directly responsible for torpedoing this country’s efforts to combat global warming and the calamitous climate change it is causing. That he would undermine any efforts at breaking our fealty to carbon-based energy sources is only to be expected, given the significant extent to which Manchin’s political and personal fortunes are tied to coal, gas and oil interests. No one playing with a scorpion should be surprised when it stings.
What is surprising is the cringe-inducing meekness with which the Democrats have tiptoed around Manchin’s constantly shifting rationale for being an obstructionist, avoiding confrontation for fear of giving offense, meekly giving up on one proposed initiative after another in a vain attempt to win an acquiescence that was never forthcoming.
Two days ago, Manchin abruptly made official what any objective observer would have concluded several months ago: he will not support any funding for climate or energy programs, nor support raising taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations to pay for such programs. As “explained” by a spokeswoman, “Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, re-evaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”
Instead, thanks to a man who represents a state of 1.8 million people in a country of 320 million who overwhelmingly support climate change policies, we’ll continue adding real fuel to the fire in the sky.
Texas is baking in a record heat wave that incidentally is producing the worst smog pollution in at least a decade, which makes “outdoor recreation” an oxymoron. The entire western expanse of the country is a tinder box, producing not only a bumper crop of wildland fires but further depleting already record-low water supplies in a process called aridification, a/k/a drought on steroids. And it’s not just the U.S. Glaciers are collapsing in Italy and Kyrgyzstan, Britain has issued its first-ever heat red alert for this coming Monday and Tuesday, and wildfires are breaking out across southern Europe, forcing thousands to evacuate.
Dealing with a crisis of such proportions is not a “political agenda,” as Manchin’s spokeswoman would have it–it’s a matter of life and death. That a member of what’s mistakenly been called “the world’s greatest deliberative body” should ignore such a self-evident reality is tragic. That the RVIA and similar self-serving organizations would act as his cheerleaders is contemptible.