Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year’s resolution to pay attention to the Climate Change Crisis

 

As times goes on it will get easier and easier to experience first-hand the consequences of Climate Change, it will also get harder and harder and to adapt and reverse those consequences. By the time Climate Change gets in our face with wildly extreme weather that breaks through the denial of the most ardent deniers, it will be far too late to actually turn Climate Change around. We already have 50 years of warming stored in our atmosphere and oceans to keep us busy even if we stopped one more molecule of carbon dioxide or any of the other greenhouse gases from entering our atmosphere.

All of us who are beginning to realize the magnitude of the Likely Changes in our regions coming with Climate Change have an obligation to communicate that understanding to everyone else. We cannot stop and reverse the changes—like extreme weather, changes in extreme precipitation events (rain and snow), rises in sea level, increase in invasive species, and much more—that are happening now with only a few on board. We cannot just rely on scientists to communicate the Climate Change Crisis:

As Climate Change Worsens, Scientists Feel Increasing Pressure to Speak Out | InsideClimate News At a recent conference, scientists debate how far they should go in expressing their concerns about the world's response to global warming. Factors contributing to climate change are moving faster than predicted and pushing us toward planetary conditions unlike any humans have ever known—this was one of the salient themes to emerge from this month's meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest gathering of earth and space scientists. Some scientists think we've already crossed that boundary and are, as Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, said, "in a very different world than we have ever seen before."  (December 29, 2011) | InsideClimate News

In the United, as opposed to most of the world, we still have to combat Climate Change denial—especially as this most virulent form of anti-science has infested our government—but mostly Climate Change communicators need to get involved locally to find out what changes are coming to their regions and what their local government is doing to prepare for that. Climate Change action plans are critical and they must be coordinated with other counties, states, and nations.

We must all be Climate Change communicators. What specifically can Climate Change Communicators do? Here are some ideas:

  • Start a web site, blog, or online group in your community to monitor local news as your media mentions extreme weather events and other predictions of Climate Change. Use Rochester Environment.com as a model.
  • Write to you local media editors and ask them to pay attention to Climate Change as it may influence your community.
  • Join organizations like 350.org that encourage local gatherings and actions on Climate Change.
  • Comment online using your social networking like Facebook and Twitter to counteract wrong information about Climate Change and encouraging more folks to understand this issue.
  • Join your local environmental and social groups and help them see the peril of Climate Change in your region.

Like an addict on illegal drugs crippled with insurmountable problems, our environmental and social problems as the Climate Change Crisis deepens will find ourselves with only one problem: surviving Climate Change. Every aspect of our lives sooner than later will have to be viewed through the lens of Climate Change: what be buy, where we work, where we live, our public health, how we get around, and even how we communicate—as extreme events (like flooding) will put many of our infrastructures in peril.

One of the most hopeful solutions to combating Climate Change that I have come across is the concept of the Citizen Science Programs as suggested by last month’s Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID) funded and published by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) .

“Expand Educational Outreach and Citizen Science Programs | Educational outreach to private landowners should be a high priority to raise their awareness of the issues and their critical role in minimizing negative impacts of climate change on New York biodiversity, habitat integrity, and maintenance of important ecosystem services. All sectors of society will benefit from sound information on climate change, its potential impacts on natural areas, its implications for ecosystem services affecting human communities, and what they can do to participate in adaptation and mitigation.” (ClimAID page 194)

A world-wide Citizen Science Program could be just the kind of education and training programs that would occur on a large enough scale to make the kind of changes that would affect our Climate. With citizens (volunteers or paid) continually monitoring possible Climate Change effects in their regions, educating others, and helping to communicate that information to a world-wide network might just bring our planet’s awareness and ability to act on a scale that would make the difference between a sustainable existence and one doomed to run away warming.

Making a resolution to focus on the most important issue of our times will help turn the tide denial into one of hope and action. And, anything you can do to communicate the importance of a Citizen Science Program in your community will go far this New Year.

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