For some, Climate Change is not a big problem. Sure we have a few hot days, but so what, we always have a few hot days, that’s not new. Well OK, sea level is rising, but only by a tiny amount, just 3 mm, so it may be a problem one day, but not today, not next week, so it’s not my problem.
Rinse and repeat that monolog. This is perhaps a “philosophy” that argues that everything is fine and that we can simply carry on with business as usual.
To be wholly clear. No, I don’t buy into it. Sadly some do. A response might be laying it all out, all the scientific research and associated conclusions, the facts, figures, and statistics. You can then watch as eyes glaze over and with a wave of the arm are advised “Whatever”.
The majority do of course get it, but how do we connect with and reach those that simply don’t get it, how do you have such a conversation?
For one answer, Rebecca Solnit has an article in the Guardian worth checking out.
Permit me to quote mine it a bit for you …
She opens with this point …
Human beings crave clarity, immediacy, landmark events. We seek turning points, because our minds are good at recognizing the specific – this time, this place, this sudden event, this tangible change. This is why we were never very good, most of us, at comprehending climate change in the first place.
She then proceeds to quote the latest IPCC report and cite the … oh wait, that’s not what she does.
Instead she lays it out differently. She describes what she has seen, what is happening now …
…We need a new word for that feeling for nature that is love and wonder mingled with dread and sorrow, for when we see those things that are still beautiful, still powerful, but struggling under the burden of our mistakes….
… Much of the early coverage showed people in fountains and sprinklers as though this was just another hot day, rather than something sending people to hospitals in droves, killing hundreds (and likely well over a thousand) in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, devastating wildlife, crops, and domestic animals, setting up the conditions for wildfires, and breaking infrastructure designed for the holocene, not the anthropocene. …
… A marine biologist at the University of British Columbia reported that the heat wave may have killed more than a billion seashore animals living on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Lightning strikes in BC, generated by the heat, soared to unprecedented levels – inciting, by one account, 136 forest fires. The heat wave cooked fruit on the trees. It was a catastrophe with many aspects and impacts, as diffuse as it was intense. The sheer scale and impact were underplayed, along with the implications….
… It could include the deluge that soaked Detroit with more than six inches of rain in a few hours last month or the ice storm in Texas earlier this year or catastrophic flooding in Houston (with 40 inches of rain in three days) and Nebraska in 2019 or the point at which the once-mythical Northwest Passage became real because of summer ice melt in the Arctic or the 118-degree weather in Siberia this summer or the meltwater pouring off the Greenland ice sheet….
After painting a picture she finishes as follows …
The rise in public engagement with the climate crisis is harder to measure. It’s definitely growing, both as an increasingly powerful movement and as a matter of individual consciousness. Yet something about the scale and danger of the crisis still seems to challenge human psychology. Along with the fossil fuel industry, our own habits of mind are something we must overcome.
Why is this article different?
I’ve only given you a brief glimpse, it is worth reading the full article.
So why is it different?
Humans generally respond either analytically or emotionally. Nobody exclusively utilises one of the other. People walking in the street might encounter a street preacher. Some might respond positively because he is hitting emotional buttons (“You have a god shaped hole in your heart, and Jesus can fill it“). Other will analyse what they hear and dismiss it because they find what is being said to not be credible. Those who responded emotionally there might respond analytically to other things, and visa versa.
When describing climate change we do often utilise statistical facts. For those that lean towards emotional thinking, it all simply bounces off.
What Rebecca does is to paint a picture using emotive descriptions that also stick to the facts. Because it uses emotive terms it engages with a demographic that don’t normally click the the seriousness of what we face.
There is of course a place for articulating the facts, but there is also a place for describing it all in stark emotive terms as well. We are all in this together, the issue is not just for another generation, it is a challenge for all of us now.
One Last Quote
“Climate change will fundamentally reshape life on Earth in the coming decades, even if humans can tame planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions […] Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas – these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30. The choices societies make now will determine whether our species thrives or simply survives as the 21st century unfolds…”Via France24