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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wake up, getting late, time to act

David Roberts of Grist, always worth reading, has three posts on global warming in the past few days (1, 2, 3).  All three are really calls to action--#1 concerns just how dire the findings of climate science are and how long we have slumbered, #2 the scale and urgency of what we need to do now, and #3 the error of hoping that moderate, reasonable, reassuring communications will get us where we need to go.

I, of course, endorse his view--what would you expect from a guy with a blog with titled It's Burning? I'm no scientist, but I've read a lot about climate science over the past 20-plus years, and very little of it has been reassuring.  Mostly, it's amounted to the slow piling up of a mountain of evidence agreeing with the basic conclusion that we're dumping heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at a scale that natural systems cannot handle, that the Earth is slowly but steadily warming as a result, and that the scale of the climate system is so large that inertia will guarantee continued warming long after we recognize the inevitable and cut back on the use of fossil fuels.

But I write with respect to #3.  Every once in a while I have a discussion about global warming with someone and I wind up thinking, or saying out loud, "But what if an unreasonable solution is required?  What if the situation is so grave that reasonableness becomes a fatal trap?"  No one ever has an answer--they just shake their heads.  Maybe we've been conditioned by the ending of the military draft, and its implication (hey, war is not such a big thing, just take it easy and someone else will do the fighting and dying)?  Are we so in love with a life of relative ease that we just don't have what it takes anymore to do what it takes?

Because, you know, it's really not that hard to become an activist on this issue. There are organizations out there like Citizens' Climate Lobby and 350 and Climate Reality Project that will keep you informed and take you by the hand and tell you what to say to whom and when to say it, or where to go and what to do, in order to have the most impact. Join them and support them now.  The simple truth is that with respect to the climate, we are facing a very dangerous situation, and it's getting worse every day.  It's getting late to stop global warming and serious disruption of the Earth's climate--maybe too late--but if you and I and thousands of others don't shuck off our laziness, our inhibitions, our fear, or whatever else is holding us back and act now ... we're guaranteeing that it's too late.

P.S. Bonus reading: in this new post The doctor and the life coach: a question for Andy Revkin, Roberts lays out the essential danger of feel-good communications about global warming. Recommended.

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