When it’s staring you in the face, it just might be the truth

“Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

The phrase has morphed from hackneyed joke to cliche to words to live by.

When I saw the street scene from the familiar city of Tucson, Ariz., it looked like a creation of Claes Oldenburg. But this tableau of a port-a-potty sliding into a plastic heap in the Southwestern heat was reality, not art object, something I doubt the artist, who recently died at 93 after a career of creativity, could ever have imagined.

When I lived in Tucson 30-plus years ago, we certainly had our hot days, ones where the sun seemed to be sitting on your shoulders with no relief in the weather report. But I don’t remember witnessing anything like that.

Yet, that image and so many more — wildfires all over the world, buckling airport runways and Texas roadways “bleeding” the binder that holds them together — have resulted in solutions that could only be described as temporary. Wrapping London’s Hammersmith Bridge in foil or coating Phoenix streets with a gray emulsion might work, but for how long?

And what’s to become of the iconic Tour de France? The first yellow jersey donned by the bicycle race leader in 1919 was made of wool, the thought of which is more than scary in 2022, when riders and spectators risked their lives while navigating twisty routes throughout that broiling country.

What are leaders doing about a long-term threat we feel in our cities, our homes and our bodies?

Hedging, dissembling and putting it off on our children and grandchildren, who must be thrilled at yet another problem left by the grown-ups.

You don’t notice climate change, until you do

Though you’d hardly call me a skier, a skiing fan or a more than casual follower of the sport, even I have heard of American champion and Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn. So, I paused to listen when she plugged her new memoir on NPR. What kept my attention were her reflections on how climate change has shifted her sport in — when you think about it — predictable ways.

“It’s been so difficult the last few years to hold the entire World Cup schedule. A lot of the races that we have are a bit lower in altitude, and those races have been canceled more often than not,” she said. “The glaciers that I grew up skiing on in Austria and places like that are essentially gone. It’s incredibly sad, and global warming is something that’s very real for the world. And I feel like in the grand scheme of things, our sport doesn’t really matter in that way, but we see it firsthand.”

From fires out West that destroy cities in the blink of an eye to a record number of deadly tornadoes in the last month of last year, few areas of the globe have been spared. According to research released last year in the journal Nature Climate Change, at least 85 percent of the global population has experienced weather events made worse by climate change. And climate effects in other places can reach America’s shores.

However, as with most issues, including those based on science, there is a partisan divide when it comes to belief in the seriousness of the problem and what, if anything, needs to be done about it.

‘It’s always urgent when it’s about vote, voice and power’

Climate change, a major concern of this week’s United Nations General Assembly, affects people across the globe through immigration, food production and the economy, to name a few. But as Ashley K. Shelton tells Mary C. Curtis, climate change is also spurring voter suppression. Shelton, who leads the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and is a founding member of the Black Southern Women’s Collective, is turning her attention to policies that need to be in place to ensure that Americans disproportionately affected by devastating weather events can fully participate in democracy.

Dysfunction in America is no longer just knocking on the door

My college roommate has been much in demand in the last few years. (In truth, the presidency of Donald Trump marked a definite uptick in her mainstream media popularity.) You see, her academic specialty is Sinclair Lewis. And if his 1935 novel, “It Can’t Happen Here,” was once seen as dystopian political fantasy, it became — in some circles — a plausible blueprint for the state of the United States of America. What, exactly, is happening here?

It’s human nature not to take crises too seriously until they come knocking at your front door. But we’ve passed that point on a host of issues, with too many citizens either in denial or using the dysfunction as a partisan tool rather than an all-hands-on-deck call to action.

Joe Biden, in his first address to the United Nations as president, asked questions the world hasn’t yet answered: “Will we meet the threat of challenging climate — the challenging climate we’re all feeling already ravaging every part of our world with extreme weather? Or will we suffer the merciless march of ever-worsening droughts and floods, more intense fires and hurricanes, longer heat waves and rising seas?”

It wasn’t that long ago, in 2015, in fact, that Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe toted a snowball onto the Senate floor to prove that the globe was not warming. And while that demonstration stands out for its absurdity and rejection of science, there are still leaders who downplay the importance of the effects of global warming, despite the reality of ever-more-destructive hurricanes in the South, never-ending fires in the West and scenes of New York subway stations awash in flood waters.

The U.S. has rejoined the Paris climate agreement that the Trump administration backed the country out of. But the size and scope of provisions in the congressional budget package to deal with the effects of climate change, a major part of the Biden agenda, are still being debated, including within the Democratic Party that barely controls the House and Senate.

That won’t stop climate from touching almost every other issue, from housing to food production to immigration. Certainly, those seeking refuge in the U.S. from places such as Central America and Haiti, ravaged by developments they may have had nothing to do with, won’t be stopped by walls or agents on horseback.

Seeking environmental justice: the impact of climate change on communities of color

The recent extreme climate event in Texas slammed many cities and towns throughout the state, but — as is the case in many natural disasters — communities of color were most affected. This has been a trend in the country, with many of these communities still feeling the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey – as well as man-made disasters such as the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. What is the cause of the disproportionate impact, and what policies can reverse this pattern?

Chrishelle Palay and Justin Onwenu join this episode of Equal Time. Palay runs the HOME Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for equitable recovery from natural disasters, while Onwenu is an environmental justice organizer for the Sierra Club and an appointee to the DNC’s Environment and Climate Crisis Council. With host Mary C. Curtis, each discusses the issue of environmental injustice not only in Texas, but across the country, and why long-standing inequities demand grassroots activism and change in local, state and federal policies.

POLITICAL WRAP: U.S. COVID Deaths Nearing 500,000; Texas Power Grid

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Another grim milestone nearing, as the U.S. prepares to reach 500,000 COVID deaths.

The latest as health officials stress the battle is far from over and remind the public to remain vigilant.

And a week of no power for many in the Lone Star State.

While Texas is the only state to have its own power grid, what are the vulnerabilities for North Carolina and the rest of the country?

Our political contributor Mary C. Curtis gives us her take in the video above.

Mary C. Curtis: President Biden’s Executive Orders

CHARLOTTE, NC — In his first week, President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders on covid-19, immigration reform, climate change and racial equality.

This as the Senate pushes ahead with the impeachment trial of Former President Trump.

WCCB political contributor Mary C. Curtis discusses the measures the president has taken so far.

You can catch Mary C. Curtis on Sunday nights at 6:30 PM on WCCB Charlotte’s CW discussing the biggest issues in local and national politics and also giving us a look at what’s ahead for the week.

When science fiction becomes environmental fact, it might be time to worryen

OPINION — How did you spend your holiday? If you’re like me, one guilty pleasure was devouring TV marathons, designed to offer relief from the stresses of the season. Reliable favorites include back-to-back episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and, on Turner Classic Movies, one whole day devoted to science fiction, imaginings both cautionary and consoling of what the future holds for our world.

But usual escapes didn’t quite work this year, not when fact is scarier than anything “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling might have dreamed up, though the serious Serling who introduced each episode of his iconic series, all furrowed brow and cigarette in hand, did signal he suspected what was coming if mankind didn’t shape up.

Hint: Mankind did not listen to that sober sage.

By writing off climate change, are Republicans writing off young voters?

It makes sense that young people, who will have to live with the consequences of decisions made by their elders, are becoming increasingly passionate about climate change and global warming. Once an afterthought on the list of issues at the top of voters’ concerns, the future of the environment is now the topic of candidate town halls, serious investigative reports and, on Wednesday, a congressional hearing featuring young people offering advice and warnings.

It’s hard to miss the extreme weather patterns that bring 500-year floods way too often. But are politicians missing the boat on an issue that could transform the voting patterns of a generation?

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Voter ID Is Law In NC; 9th District Still Unresolved; I-77 Tolls

On this edition of the Local News Roundup:

The disputed election in the 9th Congressional district is a long way from being resolved. The new Congress takes office on Jan. 3 and the citizens in the 9th district will not have representation. How long could it go on? We’ll discuss the state election board’s plans for a hearing after the new year. We’ll also talk about what McCrae Dowless’ attorney said this week about proving her client’s innocence.

Voter ID is now law in North Carolina after the house overrode Governor Cooper’s veto. The move was followed immediately by lawsuits challenging the law.

The opening of the new Interstate 77 toll lanes is delayed again. I-77 Mobility Partners says that the section of the project that was slated to open by the end of 2018 will now be pushed back to the first quarter of 2019, with the full 26-mile project complete by summer.

Another jobs announcement for Charlotte this week, with more than 1,200 jobs headed our way in the expansion of financial tech company AvidXChange. What kinds of jobs will they offer and what’s the expected impact on the Queen City? We’ll explore.

City Council voted to approve new equipment for the CMPD SWAT team totaling over $500,000. We’ll talk about what equipment was picked and why some council members opposed the purchase.

Charlotteans are remembering Jim Rogers, the former CEO and Chair of Duke Energy, who died at the age of 71 this week. We discuss what some are saying about his legacy.

And with the Panthers’ Monday Night Football loss to the Saints this week, our post-season chances are just about zero. Cam Newton is sidelined for the rest of the season due to injury. What might this mean for Ron Rivera and others next season?

Guest host Erik Spanberg from the Charlotte Business Journal will go through those stories, and much more with our roundtable of reporters on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

Guests:

Ann Doss Helms, reporter for theCharlotte Observer 

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE

Alex Olgin, reporter WFAE