Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Internet and Climate Change - a new strategy

It’s probably not news that your local media avoids Climate Change connections: Yesterday, there was an ozone alert for New York State Ozone advisory issued for Western New York - Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow and last week there were local articles about the spread of Lyme disease and the spread of the Emerald Ash borer. Not one of these news stories mentioned that these issues are related to Climate Change predictions in our area.

There will be more high ozone days in our area, more incidents of Lyme disease and the Emerald Ash Borer will be able to winter at this higher North American latitude because our climate is warming up. There is no sign that greenhouse gas emissions are abating either: Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink | Environment | The Guardian.

This is just the latest avoidance of connecting the dots on the most important issue of this century—Climate Change—with local media. And that’s not the half of it: Western New York State is considering the New York State Power Authority’s (NAPA) Great Lakes Off-shore Wind project (Glow) and making a real attempt to add a sizeable portion of our electricity needs with renewable energy, but there’s no mentioning this relationship in the news or in the discussions about wind turbines in our area and the importance curbing greenhouse gases (GHS).

Then, the biggest issue of this summer is whether hydrofracking will be allowed in New York State (note the NYS Attorney General’s news today: A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN TO SUE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TODAY FOR FAILURE TO STUDY “FRACKING” ) is never associated with the fact the natural gas is a GHS and the process of fracking releases methane too—which is even a more potent GHG.

There’s also been a rash of news reports about local nuclear power plants because of the possible issues that the Japan nuclear disaster has brought up about the possible safety issues we might have in our area—but, still nothing about energy use and Climate Change.

What is one to make of it all?

A generation is presented with a colossal problem and it becomes the elephant in the room. Why aren’t we connecting all these incidents, or even mentioning them as possible indications of Climate Change in our area? Of course the answers are obvious: We cannot ‘prove’ the connections. We cannot prove the connections because our attitude is to put the burden of proof on those making the obvious connections. It’s not conventional to associate our everyday issues with new ideas like Climate Change. Even though Climate Change may cook us sooner than predicted by the climate scientists.

The public has been led to believe that Climate Change is not true, or that we can easily adapt to it. Note, how this latter reason might be worse: The Sky Really Is Falling | Common Dreams. Not to mention, there is a big lobbying campaign by the fossil fuel industry to promote how clean and carbon neutral it is.

It’s so dreary how hopeless it all seems when we are confronted with something as large as Climate Change and we cannot even show how it is actually happening in our news. It’s dreary because it further convinces a public that we don’t need to curb GHS immediately, which (according to the laws of physics) is going to warm the place up, perhaps so quickly that we cannot adapt to it.
It all seems hopeless, but those who understand the gravity of Climate Change and how it is already showing signs of changing our local environment have a tactic they can use.

Bloggers, aggregators, social media lovers can use their ability to reach a sizable portion of their community and suggest that there are connections between Climate Change and local news stories—like the increase in ‘hot’ diseases like malaria, more hot days, and more extreme weather events. No, we don’t have proof, and that day might come from climate scientists, who are furiously working on being able to associate specific events with Climate Change, will have that proof. But that may be too late to do anything about it.

For now, it is a reasonable assumption that the increase in GHS (which is a fact) is already causing changes in our local environments. It’s just that your local media isn’t even suggesting that there is a connection.

So, why don’t you?

Why don’t you and your friends, who know how to get connected to others in your community, continually suggest that when these obvious connections –hotter days, more storms, more incidents of disease like West Nile Virus (which is an imported hot disease to our temperate North America) have something to do with Climate Change and demand that the media, our government, our educational institutions, and others with big bucks go and find out.

What would be the result of thousands of Internet bloggers connecting the dots between Climate Change and warming events in their communities? It might be a public starting to pay attention to the most important issue of our day.

Of course, local media not making the connections between Climate Change and local stories is only a part of the problem. There are a myriad of stories in your area that don’t even come up. Like whether or not your local nuclear power plant is as safe and as good for our environment as your local media suggests by its avoidance of it—even after the Japan disaster.

Our present mainstream media is blinding the public on Climate Change, but we can become the media now.

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