Climate change has seldom warranted a mention during the 2012 congressional campaigns, a sign both of the nation's changing priorities as it copes with an economic downturn and the extent to which conservative politicians and the fossil fuel industry have succeeded in sowing doubts about the scientific consensus. Mother Nature, meanwhile, is getting hot under the collar whether we want to talk about it or not. As the signs that the world is warming grow ever more unmistakable, one of the ironies of the American political debate on the topic is that leaders in the states being most heavily affected are often those least inclined to do anything about it, or even acknowledge that there's a problem.
Droughts in Texas and Louisiana, melting glaciers in Alaska and wildfires in Arizona -- with combined losses running into the tens of billions of dollars -- might lead some to conclude that fighting climate change would be cheaper than ignoring it. But such logicians probably aren't members of Congress from those states, many of whom have deep ties to the oil and gas industry or are simply philosophically opposed to environmental regulation. A picture -- or photo gallery -- of the resulting crises is worth a thousand words.