Sunday, December 06, 2009

Climate Change: Are We Off the Hook?

It must be heartwarming for climate change skeptics that the recent climate email flare-up in the news (In e-mails, science of warming is hot debate - seems to question the validity of the current Climate Crisis. Nothing dilutes action like doubt. For action, especially wholesale planetary action on curbing global warming gases might have a devastating effect on the status quo of those thriving in our present economy. And that possible scenario must create great apprehension in the hearts of those whose ideology and values seem threatened by an abrupt, massive movement towards a sustainable way of life.

(On the other hand, maybe what this climate email frenzy is really about is the need some scientists feel to circumvent a dysfunctional media and take their sense of urgency straight to the public. However, that’s a formula for disaster. Scientists aren’t particularly good at shaping public opinion. Pandering to the public is the bailiwick of the press.)

In my opinion, a better model than bedlam in the media and Congress for addressing something as incredibly vast as the climate change debate is a two-tiered approach. Whether the planet is warming up is the job of the scientists and what to do about it should be up to the rest of us: the public, government, business, and the media. Lag time, how long it take Earth’s climate to actually change, means the latter group must act long before the probable consequences. Scientists need to have the space to do their vital task—determining all the possible consequences of forcing more global warming gasses into our atmosphere and offering a list of viable solutions.

Our mainstream media seems to be having both discussions at the same time and the same place. It’s like an argument between the pilots and the passengers on where to land the plane. The hard question is not “Is the science of global warming messier than they [the climate scientists] have admitted?”--it is whether humanity can actually work together to combat a common plight. At present, we aren’t doing all that well. Lots of finger-pointing, the blame game, who’s going to pay, and still (after two decades of research) ‘is Climate Change really happening’?

We’re going to have to get our act together on Climate Change soon. It’s humanity’s first real crack at taking responsibility for the entire planet. Likewise, what we do or don’t will have profound consequences on the future. We aren’t off the hook.

That is to say, we all have a role in this decision on how to combat Climate Change, not just those in Copenhagen. Whether it’s what you buy, what media you support, who you vote for, or just about anything you do, it will affect our planet. But not everyone is a scientist and has the skill, intelligence, training, or accumulative knowledge to make the case for or against this issue. Creating the illusion in the press that all opinions on the science of Climate Change have the same weight is not helpful—except to make money for the media, which thrives on controversy.

No comments: