欢迎访问译联翻译公司!  联系邮箱:fanyi@translian.com
当前位置:首页 > 新闻动态 > 译联动态

新闻动态 / NEWS



作者: 来源: 日期:2016/9/6 8:37:13

US election: Nobody is talking about climate change





You would never guess it from the US election. But for the third year running the world is on course to exceed a record temperature in 2016 — having suffered the hottest July in history last month. People are right to worry their children may not have it as good as they did. Yet the changing planet plays little role in their foreboding. By any barometer, US politics has hit extreme weather in 2016, yet global warming ranks near the bottom on the list of voter concerns. Illegal immigration, on the other hand, is near the top, even though net inflows came to a halt five years ago. Is democracy on course to duck the biggest challenge of our age?



In the near future it surely will. It would be simplistic to lay all the blame on Donald Trump. The Republican nominee dismisses man-made global warming as a hoax concocted by China to increase its trade surplus with the US. He has also done more than any figure to demonise Hispanic immigrants.

在不久的将来肯定会。不能简单地把所有责任归咎于唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)。这位共和党候选人对全球变暖是人为造成的说法不以为然,认为这是中国为增加对美贸易顺差而炮制的骗局。在妖魔化拉美裔移民方面,他也比其他所有人都不遗余力。


Yet voter concerns would probably be little different if Mr Trump had not entered politics at all. Most of us encounter life through our day-to-day problems. Politics, like charity, begins at home. It is natural to worry more about your job security, or your family’s healthcare, than about the grander themes of our time. Questions of war and peace rarely alter US elections. Why should meteorology?



If you pause to think about it, the answer is obvious. Global warming is no longer just a documentary film by Al Gore. It is affecting our daily lives in a growing number of ways. Last month, America’s east coast suffered from an unusually long “heat dome” — summer temperatures so high the authorities in New York, Washington and elsewhere urged people to keep their children inside and stay well hydrated. My home in Washington was hit by two nights of electricity outage. The power company’s crew said they expected many more such cuts. Their underground cables were not designed to withstand so many days of daytime temperatures near 100F (38C).

如果你停下来想一想,答案是显而易见的。全球变暖不再仅仅是一部阿尔•戈尔(Al Gore)讲解的纪录片。它在以越来越多的方式影响着我们的日常生活。7月,美国东海岸遭遇了异常漫长的“热盖”现象(heat dome)——夏季气温高到那样的地步,以至于纽约、华盛顿以及其他地方的有关当局敦促人们不要让孩子外出并多喝水。我在华盛顿的住所有两个晚上停电。电力公司的工作人员表示,他们预计还会有更多此类停电。他们的地下电缆在设计时没有考虑到要承受住这么多个高温天——白天温度接近华氏100度(38摄氏度)。


People living in southern California, which has suffered from a rise in the ferocity of wildfires; Louisiana, which earlier this month was flooded by “once-in-a-thousand-year” rainfall; or large tracts of midwest America, where drought is no longer freakish, are feeling the anecdotal force of climate change. Westerners may find it hard to identify with people in the Gulf, where years of growing heat intensity threaten to make it uninhabitable. But they feel the impact when insurance rates shoot up in low-lying coastal areas, such as Florida, Alabama and even New Jersey.



Climate alarm is no longer a monopoly of environmentalists. Earlier this month, Zillow, an online property site, forecast that one in eight homes in Florida would be underwater by the end of the century. You might want to think twice about buying that beachfront home in Miami. The big reinsurance companies last month called on Washington to take urgent steps to stop catastrophe, which threatens to make nonsense of their risk models. Meanwhile, farmers in the midwest fret about the uncertainty of “extreme weather”. But can voters connect the dots? Will their experience of climate change translate into public action?



There are two big obstacles. The first is that voters increasingly distrust experts nowadays. Whether it is fear about the side-effects of vaccines on children, the impact of fluoride in drinking water, or climate change forecasts, scepticism about science has been rising in the past few years. There is no way most people will ever have the time, or the education, to understand climate science. If we distrust those who do, we will not hear what they say. Scientists have consistently said that global warming will take place unevenly, unpredictably and by step-change rather than on a linear curve. That means next year may be less hot than this year. It will not mean that global warming is a hoax. Here is one prediction: next time it snows in Washington DC, several US senators will send tweets mocking global warming.



Second, people are afraid that doing something about global warming will make them poorer. Terms such as “carbon tax” imply a higher cost of living. This makes the politics very hard. To avoid the word tax, governments have resorted to far less efficient remedies such as cap and trade schemes, which are floundering in Europe, California and elsewhere, since they are run by bureaucrats and vulnerable to lobbying. It would be far better to let the market decide how to cut emissions by putting a price on carbon. In theory, the solution is easy. For every dollar raised from carbon, we should receive a dollar in tax cuts — or better still, have it rebated in our tax returns. The purpose should not be to raise money but to cut emissions.



Will the 2016 election make any difference? Forecasting short-term politics is harder than long-term weather. But it is safe to say the hidden costs of climate change — the federal disaster relief, higher insurance rates, bigger levees and so on — will only grow. Most global risk warnings for 2016 put a Trump win high on their lists. We will know about that soon enough. By contrast, it could take years before the public reaches a verdict on global warming, by which time we may be reaping the whirlwind.