Friday, July 20, 2012
Digging a Comfortable Grave
Hot enough for ya? 'Should be, with record-breaking heat waves crossing the country. All this in the wake of still more wild fires devastating lands and lives, heavy rains and floods disrupting and destroying still more communities, and tornadoes making their deadly presence felt. Crops are withering in the heat, and we're told sea life may be in danger due to ocean warming and acidification. All of which may add up to soaring food prices. No surprise, really; climatologists predicted all these things would come to pass decades ago, due in large part to industrial pollution contributing to global warming.
As the problem grows increasingly harder to ignore, the news media are beginning--just beginning, at long last--to address these trends. But perhaps too little, too late. Over the soothing hum of their air conditioners, the public continues to live in the sweet land of denial. As with so many other issues in the U.S., science tends to take a back seat to politics. Denying the manifest reality of climate change has become an ideological creed in itself.
But, it's not just social and economic conservatives who choose to ignore the mounting scientific and daily evidence. People who call themselves progressive are living in denial land as well. I recently attended a training session for people who wanted to canvass for progressive political candidates. When discussing critical issues to address with voters, these aspiring activists shied away from addressing climate change, saying the "science was unsettled." When will it be settled? When the death toll from heat exhaustion reaches national emergency levels? When New York City ends up like New Orleans?
Curious. Skepticism is one thing. But, why would so many people refuse even to consider the possibility that 97% of the world's climatologists might just possibly be right and that the melting glaciers, rising sea levels, storms and droughts wreaking havoc across the globe might be more than mere coincidence? After all...none of us go through life expecting to fall down an elevator shaft or get run over by a drunk driver, but we still take out life insurance, because it's the sensible thing to do. We want those we leave behind to be provided for if the worst should happen. We care about our kids because they are the future; our bloodlines reaching beyond our lifetimes. So, most normal people have always worked hard and taken the necessary precautions, even against the remotest of threats, so that our children will have better lives than they did. But now, it seems, we don't care enough to consider what kind of world the next generation will inherit.
Maybe people feel the problem is just too big to take on, so they dig themselves a comfortable grave and lie in it, leaving the next generation to fend for itself. We've stopped thinking about the future. We've stopped caring about tomorrow, it seems, as we march like lemmings into the rising sea.