When is the best time to talk about Climate Change? Now, after record-breaking hurricanes, before our elections, in elementary school where we start to learn about the sciences, at Thanksgiving or Christmas family gatherings, at community gatherings, over a drink at the local tavern, on social media, while driving and connected to our Smartphones, only when taking a college course on Climate Change, at a meeting where people already agree on addressing this crisis, while on a vacation or a long bike ride, at a bus stop while waiting for a bus, during a doctor visit, while walking the dog, on a date, jogging down the street with a friend, intermission at a movie or basketball game, or after every environmental emergency, every appointment, while watching a sports event, TV show, or only after every other thing has been exhausted and there’s nothing left to talk about (and even then just keeping quiet about Climate Change would be preferable)? My guess, after watching this issue unfold over the decades, is that NEVER is the answer most people would like. Of course, that would be suicidal for us and our children.
Did your media mention the Climate Change connection to Hurricanes Harvey or Irma? If not, why not? Too divisive, too much info, too boring, too wonky, too scary? (What else is your media keeping from you?)
To solve Climate Change, to plan for our future in a time frame and scale that will matter, the public needs to be engaged with this crisis. That is going to be more unlikely to happen when their media is not reporting fully on extreme weather, why these storms are getting so big, causing so much damage, and what can be done to adapt to them in a warmer world.
A Storm of Silence: Study Finds Media Is Largely Ignoring Link Between Hurricanes and Climate Change "A Storm of Silence." That’s the title of a new report by the watchdog group Public Citizen that looks at the media’s failure to discuss climate change in its wall-to-wall hurricane coverage. While all the television networks commented on the magnitude of Hurricane Harvey and "extreme weather," virtually none explained how warmer ocean temperatures lead to heavier winds, warmer air causes more precipitation, and higher sea levels exacerbate storm surges. The report examined 18 media sources’ coverage of Hurricane Harvey—looking at 10 major newspapers, three weekly news magazines and national programming from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News over the course of eight days’ worth of Hurricane Harvey coverage. The report concludes, "Many failed to discuss the issue [of climate change] much or failed to cover important aspects of it. ... Two of the three major broadcast networks, ABC and NBC, did not mention climate change at all in the context of Hurricane Harvey." We speak to David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program. (September 12, 2017) Democracy Now! [more on Climate Change in our area]
The Miami Herald pushed back only a teeny-weeny bit against the Trump version of science (‘We’ve had bigger storms than this”) when they said,
However, some scientists have found that the effects of global warming — namely warmer oceans and hotter air — can intensify hurricane formation and result in higher rainfall, though just how much those factors might affect the storms remains uncertain. Higher sea levels can contribute to more devastating storm surge. (Irma doesn’t persuade Trump on climate change: ‘We’ve had bigger storms than this’, September 14, 2017) Miami Herald [more on Climate Change in our area]
“Some scientists”? Really? Does the characterization of 98% of the world’s scientists constitute “some scientists”? Could the Miami Herald sound more equivocal on the science behind Climate Change?
Would our media have covered the recent record-breaking hurricanes and the Climate Change connection better if we had not plunked a climate denier into the top office? If we had voted into office a responsible leader who acknowledged the importance of science, would the US mainstream media have stood up against climate denial? We’ll never know because some things cannot be undone and time is running out on addressing Climate Change.
We Americans tried silence on the slavery issue, where only the very brave spoke up against greatest evil our country ever perpetrated. But by 1861 the awful quiet that condemned millions to a horrific existence became impossible. The actions of those who thought slavery evil and the reactions of those who thought it was a good idea grew more hostile until a great (not in a good way) Civil War broke out.
What if our forefathers had decided that indeed “… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”? We hushed the prospects of a real discussion on Freedom because we thought we couldn’t form a country without the evil silence. If we knew what would ensue, would we have tried something other than silence?
Being silent on slavery and Climate Change are both morally reprehensible. But Climate Change has the added punch of dire physical consequences if we don’t act. Silence ruined millions of lives with slavery. Climate Change may tip our environment past our ability to right it.
What will be the most likely outcomes of climate silence?
- Untold billions of lives lost and ruined because a planet allowed to get too hot
- We’ll put more climate deniers into top political offices because we won’t challenge their science, making it less likely we’ll adapt
- The public will be lulled into thinking there are other priorities more important than this existential crisis and so we will continue to kick the can down the road
- We’ll keep developing and redeveloping destroyed property from extreme weather until our insurance companies and the insurer of last resort (our federal government) can no longer afford it.
- Our media will really become ‘fake media’ as it distances itself from science.
- Perhaps, like with slavery, the tensions between those who think we must address Climate Change and those who don’t want to talk about it will escalate. But, unlike the differences between the slave states and the non-slave states, we won’t be able to cordon ourselves off from each other. We may not be one on Climate Change, but Earth is one life system that affects us all.
We’re going to address Climate Change in time or not.
This statement by the Miami mayor seems a reasonable response to the recent spate of record-breaking hurricanes in the USA:
Miami Mayor To Donald Trump: It’s Time To Talk About Climate Change As Hurricane Irma forces millions to evacuate, Mayor Tomás Regalado says: “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is.” (September 9, 2017, Huffington Post)