Friday, November 8, 2013
I want to talk about something scary. It involves increased greenhouse gases, rising sea levels, species extinction, more disease, ocean acidification and many other horrifying realities, all of which should terrify you.
Global climate change is a scary phrase, heard over and over again on the lips of sneering politicians and in news coverage of giant storms. I could use this space to list all the ways in which our home planet will soon become unfamiliar and inhospitable to us, and how we should all turn in our car keys for bike helmets.
I could talk about how climate change works, how carbon dioxide is changing the composition of our atmosphere and how temperature will keep increasing even if we stopped all greenhouse gas emissions today because of the residence time of greenhouse gases. I could say all of this and maybe I would scare you, but that’s not what I want to say.
Global climate change has become a fighting word. It sparks suspicion among some, anger in others, and everywhere it has highly political implications.
This, I believe, is almost as terrifying as climate change itself. It is high time we stopped petty disagreement and looked toward maintaining the only home we’ve got. The scientists who first conducted studies on global warming did not set out with malicious intentions toward big oil companies or the American public.
The entanglement of politics and science was unfortunate and counterproductive, but it’s high time we moved beyond that.
Global climate change is scary. It won’t become less so, and fighting among ourselves will not help.
I shouldn’t need to list a lot of scary things to convince you to do something about climate change. Sometime in the last couple centuries we got in way over our head, and it is up to us now to remedy that.
Even more sobering, our children will have to deal with the hot mess we’ve made, so let’s start doing something. Let’s start listening to the scary predictions of scientists, to the warnings that the climate is giving us, and let’s start thinking of ways we can slow climate change together.
Facing a big problem is a lot less scary with company, so let’s face this challenge together, in unison, rather than continue fighting one another as we drown in the rising oceans.