Do Louisianans think the way schools teach the nation’s history with slavery is why soaring flood insurance rates could soon make home ownership impossible in some communities ?

Do they believe that teachers mentioning same-sex couples are the reason Lake Charles, Houma, Lafitte and other towns are facing ruinous reconstruction costs from ever-larger hurricanes?

Did they conclude that preventing transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice is the key to preventing storm surges from reaching ever further north of our shores, or removing Louisiana from the list of states the most polluted and unhealthy?

I ask these questions because previously it was reasonable to assume that the attention given to a political issue would reflect its importance to the well-being and future of the community.

Unfortunately, in this case, the old “assume” rule (make an ASS of U and Me) caught me again.

For while Louisiana’s political leaders and newsrooms that cater to the public interest have spent much of the last year on the so-called culture wars, the real enemies of our future have gained ground – literally. .

So it’s likely that many Louisianans have missed a series of recent reports, critical to any future we may have here, released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made up of the world’s smartest people on the climate. The latest report, released two weeks ago, said the world had about eight years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or deal with more severe and long-lasting impacts already felt. These include record wildfires, heat waves, droughts, torrential rains, larger hurricanes, rising sea levels and more.

This should have been the hottest topic in our legislature and our media. After all, Louisiana is one of the most vulnerable places on the planet to climate change because our coastal zone – essentially an area from Lake Charles to Mandeville – is sinking at one of the fastest rates in the world. . When combined with ocean swelling caused by warming, researchers say the Gulf is projected to rise two feet along the cost of Louisiana by 2050 – just 38 years from now.

This will result in each storm surge being higher and reaching further inland. And that means many current dikes would have to be lifted at great expense, or communities would have to relocate. Ask residents of LaPlace, Lake Charles, Lafitte and Mandeville if they have noticed any changes and if they think this is necessary.

And if Gulf water temperatures, which fuel hurricane development, continue to rise to record highs, the hurricane will continue the recent trend of going from lean Cat 1s to raging Cat 4s in just 24 hours. . Taller levees can fend off higher surges but won’t stop the 150 mph winds from devastating communities.

This latest report from the IPCC lists the changes that can make a difference, which could slow and reduce these impacts and allow future generations to continue to live in the lower third of Louisiana.

Yet most of our legislators, like their constituents, paid little heed to it.

The intimidation of powerless minorities is a low-hanging fruit for political demagogues; that’s why they spend so much time doing it. But it takes political force and leadership to tell the sacred cows like the oil, gas and plastics industries that are the root causes of the problem that they need to change.

Fast sinking Louisiana should lead this fight because we have no time to lose. In football terms, we are on our own three-yard line four points down with 30 seconds left and no time-outs.

And the only chance we have for a tie is if the people we send to Baton Rouge and Washington are told by their constituents that this is their top priority.

We’ve reached a point where we all have to decide whether we want future generations to remember us for keeping third graders from hearing that a friend had two fathers, or for taking the tough steps that made them allowed to continue to live and thrive in places like Lake Charles, Houma, LaPlace, Golden Meadow, Mandeville, and New Orleans.

Bob Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental journalist in Louisiana, can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @BMarshallEnviro.

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