Off The Back Burner Before We All Cook

With good cause the coronavirus and associated economic situation have been front and center in most Americans’ minds for over nine months now. However there is a larger problem which in the interim we have put on the back burner and it is time to move it up in the batting order.  With more metaphors to come, let’s explore.

My philosophy of basketball includes an almost total commitment to playing man-to-man defense (a/k/a man). On its surface it is simple; you are assigned a member of the opposition and when your team is on defense you guard him.  (I coached boys then men and the sport is basically sexist, at least in its terminology.)  However when an offensive player possessing the ball is loose and either in or entering their shooting range you have to leave your man and defend him.  At that instant the man with the ball is immediate threat.  (The basketball is more complex if you really know how to coach or play man but this is not a coaching clinic.)  The same is true of public policy.  The coronavirus was the immediate threat and needed to take first place even if that meant paying less attention to other threats.

While far from the only issue that needs to be addressed, the greatest threat to mankind is climate change. There are a few “flat-earthers” who deny its existence or man’s involvement but I deal in facts here.  Again the challenge is more complex than a single line but here is one of my favorites with respect to climate change:  How much is your house worth when you can’t breathe the air or drink the water?

I was extremely pleased to see President-Elect Joe Biden name John Kerry as Climate Czar. Importantly that position does not require Senate confirmation.  While it is far from a panacea, one of the first steps the United States needs to take is to reenter the Paris Climate Accord.  With Biden as President and Kerry as Climate Czar that will be accomplished in extremely short order.

As president, Biden will be able to issue executive orders protecting the environment and negating much of the damage that Trump’s executive orders have caused going forward. (Putting the toothpaste back in the tube is close to impossible.)  The federal government is largely run by bureaucrats who care about the intended missions of their agencies.  Personally, like most Americans, they have political leanings but in their jobs they serve the greater cause regardless of who is in the White House, runs the House of Representatives or Senate unless they are interfered with.  However executive orders can be overturned by subsequent presidents.  Our nation has swayed from Obama to Trump to Biden in short order.  As despicable as the thought is what is to prevent America from electing a nutcase in 2024?

The longer term answer is legislation which is much more difficult to overturn than executive orders are. In order to turn a bill into law it has to pass both chambers of Congress and then get signed by the sitting president.  With Biden in the White House the final step is assured for legislation protecting the planet.  A Nancy Pelosi led House will also do the right thing.  The question mark and potential stumbling block is the Senate.  Unless the Democrats win both Georgia runoff elections the Republicans will control the Senate led by Mitch McConnell.  The only political party of consequence in the entire world that denies climate change is the American Republican Party.  It is not a universal conservative thing; there are plenty of other conservative leaning political parties around the world, many of them in power, but none of them deny climate change or man’s involvement.  Mitch is a master of obstruction.  If the Republicans maintain control of the Senate Biden will not get a single piece of significant environmental legislation passed in it.  In fact very few, if any, environmental bills will see the Senate floor for a vote.  One of McConnell’s quotes is, “Winners make policy and losers go home.”  If Mitch makes environmental policy long enough many people whether winners or losers will not have a house to go home to – it will be under water as the sea level rises.

The pandemic and its negative economic impact will certainly greet Biden as he enters the Oval Office. I am not asking him to ignore it or put it on the back burner.  I’m asking him to multitask and pay more attention to climate change.  Based on his early appointments he already is.

This article was written well ahead of publishing in order to accommodate my year end hiatus and is the property of Its content may not be used without citing the source.  It may not be reproduced without the permission of Larry Marciniak.