Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Meaning of Summer in Australia

I recently started following Bill McKibben of 350.org on Twitter. It's not as though I wasn't aware of climate change before that, but I still wasn't prepared for how much my outlook would be affected by seeing a constant stream of reminders about anthropogenic warming.

With Australia adding a new color to its weather maps to document the new record high of 52°C (that's over 125°F in case you are Celsius-challenged), it's hard to take almost any other issue seriously. Civil liberties and Bradley Manning? Health care costs? Education? I care about all of those things, but today they seem almost unimportant.

This juxtaposition was particularly startling:

Two tweets side by side. The first, by Bill McKibben, says Aussies evacuating national parks. The second, by Grist, says In the future, your computer could know what you want for dinner
Grist.org doesn't usually focus on this kind of "don't worry be happy" content, so I don't mean to make fun of them, but jeez. How trivial does that seem, and how out of touch with the likelihood that every tree alive today will most likely be dead by 2050 because of warming? Or that droughts are causing shortages that drive up food costs, so who cares what you want for dinner anyway?

As Maggie Koerth-Baker says, it matters only a little what we each do as individuals, such as turning off lights. It will take society-level policy changes to reverse the havoc we're wreaking on the climate, whether through carbon taxes, free public transit, or an overall change away from the idea that growth is the only acceptable economic model.

Maybe the U.S. isn't the country to take this on, given our political gridlock and seemingly intractable commitment to the winner-take-all business model. I don't know. But we have to do something.

1 comment:

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, thanks for this. Checking out 350.org now.