You’d be hard pressed to find much major media discussion of the climate crisis in Mississippi. (Let’s stop talking about climate “change,” by the way; it’s already a crisis that can only intensify with time). So imagine my surprise at seeing the Clarion-Ledger today run a front-page story on the failure of both senatorial candidates, Hyde-Smith and Espy, to address the issue.
The piece makes it clear that Mississippi will not get a pass on the damaging impacts of the crisis – “It is projected to create many of the same problems for Mississippians — hurting farmers with intense drought, leading to more severe storms, and flooding coastal areas with rising sea levels, federal analyses say.” (And that is, at best, just a starter set of problems we can anticipate as the crisis deepens.)
It’s easy enough to understand why neither candidate wants to get out front on the climate issue. Up until practically this minute, so much as merely mentioning it could earn you the opprobrium usually reserved for reproductive rights advocates. Hyde-Smith, of course, celebrates life in the shadow of President Trump’s – that is to say, the climate crisis denier-in-chief’s – backside, thinking it her surefire ticket to a full six-year term. Espy, while a Democrat angling for an upset, proclaims nothing so loudly as his wish to represent all Mississippians, and, let’s face it, a majority of our fellow citizens seem to enjoy sharing the Trumpian shadow with Sen. Hyde-Smith.
But denying painful reality does not make it disappear, any more than wishing something pleasant makes it so. The crisis is coming on with a vengeance that will grow more fierce the more it is ignored. Social workers bear an enormous responsibility, and will face enormous challenges, when it comes to dealing with the myriad impacts of the climate crisis, a “long emergency” already underway. More on that later.