Monday, March 15, 2010

Strange Days Ahead

Doesn’t it seem odd to you here in the Rochester, NY region to read about a critical indication of Climate Change in our area only being reported across the ocean at the BBC? “Climate change 'makes birds shrink' in North America” (3/12/2010). Along with a loony media in rapture over their invention called climategate, the public’s disinclination to focus on the most potentially disastrous environmental change of our age, and our irrational denial of the obvious fact that our planet is warming up, we have to search the globe to discover what changes will occur here. In the face of a real threat to our existence, strange days are indeed ahead: more warming, more denial.

Just so you know, the list of possible Climate Change alterations in our local environment continues to grow: Rochester-area Climate Change. Here’s the most recent list of possible Climate Change scenarios for our area: threatened North American birds populations; changes to the St. Lawrence River Ecosystem; invasive species move from the southern area into our area; extreme heat and declining air quality; our weather getting whacky(think big snowstorms in Washington, DC); dropping water levels in Lake Huron and Michigan bring drier weather; Great Superior could be windier; Great Lakes might be different; changes to our National Parks; increasing numbers of sewer overflows; drop in Great Lakes water levels; and compounding factors in the Great Lakes region. You might want to think of these very real possibilities the next time you drive that gas-guzzler, switch on a light, or turn up your house’s thermostat.

As Earth Day (April 22) approaches, I suspect that fewer people will turn out for local environment events because in the media other issues loom larger and the Climate Change deniers get stronger. Here’s an example of the tempest in the teapot: Scientists Taking Steps to Defend Work on Climate - NYTimes.com (3/20/2010) “For months, climate scientists have taken a vicious beating in the media and on the Internet, accused of hiding data, covering up errors and suppressing alternate views. Their response until now has been largely to assert the legitimacy of the vast body of climate science and to mock their critics as cranks and know-nothings.”

All this rage over Climate Change denial in the press gives me the impression that the media assumes that the ‘environmental movement’ is getting weaker. At one time the labor movement was stronger than it is now. The women suffrage movement got women the right to vote, but has gotten weaker, unable to break the ‘glass ceiling’ of equal pay. Conventional thinking seems to saying that movements move in waves, a reflection of the way human’s interests ebb and flow. Sometimes the public likes hats with plumes in them (which, by the way almost decimated the Florida Everglades of their herons), and sometimes they don’t. Movements just come and go. C'est la vie. People are now getting tired of all this greeny stuff and Chicken Little on Climate Change.

But calling concerns about our environment a ‘movement’ is a merely an artifact of how we use language to make an argument. If you can convince the public that our environment is merely a ‘movement’, then you can equate the environmental movement with our penchant for suddenly seizing on ideas for a time and then just as suddenly becoming un-enthralled with them. But that would be like an aeronautic engineer becoming bored with gravity. Can you really envision this: One day this engineer decides his continual concern over gravity is really just keeping him back from creating a truly spectacular airplane design—and so he just designs gravity out of his plans. Would you fly in this contraption?

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