As one behemoth storm after another slams into the United States, I’m all ears waiting for the words “climate change” to be uttered in the American election campaign. No luck yet, as the campaign stays bogged down in 30-year-old trivia. There was nearly the same detachment from environmental reality during recent provincial and federal elections in Canada.

But the U.S. is the big enchilada, and it seems as if the higher up you go, the worse it gets. The Bush administration, which denies that climate change is a reality, paid off the large polluters which bankroll it by deregulating the coal and oil industries, ripped up a bunch of Clinton-era environmental measures and declared that the solution to the energy problem is to drill for oil in national parks.

It’s not like that everywhere. Last week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared himself “shocked about how the speed of this is gathering” after the latest update from his scientists, who project a rise of as much as three feet in ocean levels by the end of the century. Following upon a British summer of rain and ruined crops, and last summer’s heat wave that killed 30,000 Europeans, he said “unchecked climate change has the potential to be catastrophic in both human and economic terms.” He called for a “green industrial revolution,” adding “the time to act is now.” He’s under the gun to put his credibility with the U.S. government on Iraq to good use by giving President George Bush a wake-up call.

A scan of the latest scientific reports gives us an idea of what he’s worried about. includes these titles: Greenland ice cap “doomed to meltdown” — triggering massive rises in ocean levels; Greenhouse gas levels hit record highs and rising; Climate change means one in four land animals and plants on way to extinction by 2050; Great Barrier Reef to be decimated by 2050; Europe’s weather could flip between extremes, alternating between floods and droughts in 20 years.

A British scientist says “greenhouse gases are at geologically incredible levels.” The effect will likely be weather of “undreamt-of ferocity.” One study projects a drop of 30 per cent or more in China’s rice and maize crops in coming decades. A climate model predicts searing heat along the U.S. West Coast as glaciers melt; another projects devastating droughts on the Canadian Prairies. Not to mention a leaked Pentagon report last winter that said climate change is a greater long-run threat than terrorism.

There is a small light on in Washington. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have an inquiry into climate change. Last Wednesday, the chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference testified before it that the Bush administration is trying to bury an international report on the dramatic impacts of global warming on the Arctic, where it’s worse than anywhere, because it recommends reducing greenhouse gases. Eight circumpolar nations and 300 scientists participated. The other countries want to release it, but the U.S. doesn’t.

Scientists appeared to talk about the hurricanes. A large equatorial circulation in the South Atlantic that last came around in the 1950s, when there were huge hurricanes, is apparently back. The deniers of climate change said this is just a regular routine. For the others, it’s back, but getting worse. Since 90 per cent or more of scientists vouch for the reality of global warming, and many of the naysayers are funded by polluters or their institutes, the probabilities here are obvious.

John Kerry has an environmental policy, but doesn’t talk about it much — perhaps because his patriotism would be questioned if he were found to be an ecological girly-man, or perhaps because, like here, voters don’t want to make the connection.

Sometimes it’s strange who does get it: The World Energy Congress was on in Sydney, Australia last week. There, the head of the global energy division of Rio Tinto mining, one of the world’s largest mining (and therefore polluting) conglomerates, added his voice to the small but rising number of corporate heads admitting that there’s a problem. Climate change is “a deadly threat,” he said, and “the most serious environmental issue facing the world.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, adding up the warnings and our nonchalance about them, commented editorially: “We will not get away with it much longer.”