By: Suzanne Kelly-Lyall
When the immortal Billy Holliday sang; Stormy Weather in 1953, she couldn’t have known that the record June temperatures of June 1933, the year Harold Arlen and Ted Koheler wrote that hit, would not be seen again until 2012. Blistering temperatures across the lower 48 states of the US captured daily headlines with power outages in the nation’s capital and scorching temperatures that threatened US crops across the mid-west, yet you’d be hard pressed to hear the phrase climate change uttered, even in whispers.
A typical example of how “extreme weather” is covered by US media: http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/09/us/extreme-heat/index.html?hpt=hp_t1 CNN reports a long list of “first, worst, and record breaking” but makes no connection to climate change. The photomontage selected to accompany the piece, note the happy-looking children frolicking in the water, suggests that cooling off is only a hydrant or pool away. It is difficult to see these images and then listen to farmers from Texas to Kansas being interviewed about the devastation to their crops the heat wave caused or to see the harrowing footage of suburban Coloradans fleeing the blaze that consumed a large swath of Colorado Springs.
Sadly the song that sums up the reaction of our policy-makers in Washington is Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. It is a US presidential election year and the sitting President ran on a platform that included addressing climate change and building a green economy – Maybe it’s time we ask : Are You Out There President Obama, It’s Me, Mother Nature, calling.