Bold Delegate vs. Blatant Corruption in West Virginia State Government

by S. Tom Bond on July 27, 2019

Billionaire Coal Magnate Jim Justice, ..... now the West Virginia Governor

The temerity to address climate change in West Virginia

From an Editorial Essay by J. Damon Cain, Beckley Register Herald, July 26, 2019

We acknowledge and appreciate the political bind our elected leaders face in this state when addressing climate change. Coal has been king in these parts for the better part of the past century. And while it has lost a bit of its leverage these past few decades, the coal industry has put food on the table, paid down mortgages and built whole communities all across the map of southern West Virginia. The coal industry forged the steel for the spine of America.

As such, it is a rare and courageous bird that dares speak out against the environmentally damaging effects of carbon emissions and be elected to serve in the West Virginia Legislature. It is far more typical for a duly elected member to ignore the inconvenient science and uncomfortable truths and, instead, offer a condescending quip when handed the microphone.

Such was the remarkable debate this Tuesday when, during consideration of a bill that would provide $12.5 million to prop up a failing coal-fired power plant, one legislator – an environmental scientist – envisioned a dystopian future “if we don’t take some steps to address climate change.” Another lawmaker – not a scientist – responded by calling man-caused climate change a “mythological pseudo-science.”

We side with the scientist – and applaud his temerity for speaking the truth. We will ignore that other guy because this is a serious issue in need of serious people developing serious strategies to combat the serious effects of this global threat.

The earth is heating up – rapidly. The scientific research and actual weather records are incontrovertible. A United Nations report released in May says one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction. The implications for human survival? Disturbing. As negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are on the march, scientists say the human race must act quickly to avoid dire consequences – in as little as a dozen years. Other warnings are more stern, suggesting the human race faces an existential challenge. Solve it or perish.

There are solutions – if we have the political pluck to address the issue honestly. Delegate Marshall Wilson, R-Berkeley, the climate denier, is going to be of no help. Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, on the other hand, needs a wider audience.

“Here in West Virginia in 2016,” Hansen began, “we had those catastrophic floods that damaged a huge amount of property and killed 23 people and that is the type of effect that has been predicted for our region and our state, more rainfall coming down in shorter periods of time, that’s going to lead to more floods, more property damage and more deaths.”

Hansen is imploring his fellow legislators to “take some steps to address climate change.”

It was just last week that another scientist, Andreas Prein, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research who last week was watching Tropical Storm Barry take aim at the Gulf Coast, sounded a similar warning: “Climate change is in general increasing the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall storms.”

As for Mr. Wilson, we hate to be a menace so we will spare him references to mountains of scientific research. He can, after all, google Climate Change and find ample reading. Instead, we will point to the heat wave that suffocated the Midwest, parts of our state and the East Coast just this past week as a fresh reminder of our times and a direct contradiction to “pseudo-science”:

● According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the average number of heat waves — defined as two or more consecutive days where daily lows exceeded historical July and August temperatures — in 50 major American cities has tripled, from an average of two per year in the 1960s to the current average of nearly six per year.

● Related, the time period in which heat waves might be expected to occur in the U.S. is 45 days longer than it was in the 1960s, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

● Even the business world is climbing aboard the train. Moody’s Corporation just bought controlling shares in a firm that measures the risks of climate change, the latest evidence that global warming can threaten the creditworthiness of governments and companies.

Yes, we side with the scientists on this. We just hope that our elected leaders forge steel for their spines while we have a fighting chance. This is serious.


See Also: FirstEnergy Solutions in court battle with Justice-owned company, Steven Adams, Parkersburg News & Sentinal, July 24, 2019

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