Climate change is on the march, with the news coming so quickly that I haven't attempted to keep up with recent developments. Unfortunately, many folks still don't see what there is to be worried about. Thankfully, Al Gore has posted a summary of the nine issues of concern
associated with climate change: global flooding, mass migration, conveyer belt disturbance, extreme temperatures, ecosystem impacts, global drought, food production losses, disease spreading, hurricane intensity. Actually, I would combine the extreme temperatures, global drought, and hurricane intensity into the single concern of climate instability, which would then also be able to cover events such as the ongoing rise in tornados and falling ice
Meanwhile, there is the suggestion
that the lack of outrage at the problem might be due to the name:The muted reaction to our impending disaster comes down to two things:
1. the name.
Global is good.
Warm is good.
Even greenhouses are good places.
How can "global warming" be bad?
I'm not being facetious. If the problem were called "Atmosphere cancer" or "Pollution death" the entire conversation would be framed in a different way.
2. the pace and the images.
One degree every few years doesn't make good TV. Because activists have been unable to tell their story with vivid images about immediate actions, it's just human nature to avoid the issue. Why give up something we enjoy now to make an infintesimal change in something that is going to happen far in the future?
. . .
Doesn't matter what you market. Human beings want:
totems and icons
meters (put a real-time mpg or co2 meter in every car and watch what happens)
95% of the new ideas that don't spread--even though their founders and fans believe they should--fail because of the list above.
This is hardly a new insight. Previously, there was an effort in favor of global climate change, more descriptive than the simple "warming." Unfortunately, the conservatives picked up on the phrase and incorporated it into their arguments in favor of doing nothing (Just keep pressing down on that accelerator). While wonks and scientists may still favor the term, it never caught on with the MSM and the public.
Where do we go from here? Unfortunately, our most likely course is deeper into the problem. Someday, we may come up with a better phrase to describe the global mess that we are making, but that will probably require things to get much worse.
The significance of climate change was brought home for me back in the late 80s when I attended a presentation by a climate scientist. Mostly, he spoke of the difficulties they then had in modeling the global climate and prediciting what might happen. What truly landed with me, though, was his observation that no matter how they adjusted the models, none of the models predicted a future that supported the climate conditions required for the US corn belt.
Unfortunately, it may take ecological, economic, and social disruption on that scale before we get the political will to do anything about climate change.