A study was just released found that climate change is not only going to happen, it is in fact HAS happened and is now ongoing. The White House is trying to use this report to create a sense of urgency so maybe we start to take some sort of action. But it’s not going to work. You can have all the scientists and all the scientific studies in the world, but anything short of the world literally catching on fire is not going to spur any action (and even then, we may then only start to seriously discuss taking action, not take any actual action).
The thing that got me thinking about this was bridges. You may say, bridges? What does that have to do with anything? Well, this country just happens to have a bridge problem. Nearly 25% of this country’s bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. And 30% of this country’s bridges have exceeded their 50-year designed lifespan. Heck, an interstate bridge in Minnesota just flat-out collapsed in 2007, which would seem to prove the point that our bridges need a little work. Now I have never heard of a “bridge denier”, and I don’t think anybody really questions the numbers nor the situation. And yet we have done little to improve the situation. If we won’t do anything to fix something that is pretty much non-controversial, what chance does a cause that actually do have political activists fighting against it have?
What causes us to take action? A truly sudden cataclysmic event, preferably televised, seems to do the trick. But it has to be huge. Or maybe just needs to happen a lot in a short period of time. But a single bridge collapse was not enough to address our bridges. A shooting of 20 second graders did nothing for gun control. I often wonder what would have happened if the events of 9/11 wasn’t pretty much on live television.
The other thing that causes action is things that directly impact the influential in the here and now. Unlike the huge cataclysmic events, if it affects the right people, these things can be nothing more than minor inconveniences. When the government shutdown started delaying airline flights for people, including the media and politicians, it was amazing how a government who before couldn’t seem to agree on anything could suddenly come together and get THAT fixed! The poor? Hunger? Health care? Pfft, whatever. But by golly I ain’t waiting for a plane!
But climate change, while will eventually have huge and devastating impacts, is not going to be sudden and will be hard to televise. It’s going to be a slow burn. And while it will not discriminate, it’s probably never going to have that ‘man, this is really effecting ME TODAY, we better do something!’ aspect to it.
Neil Tyson Degrasse recently said in reference to our inaction toward climate change, “The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What’s our excuse?” While what I offer are not excuses (or at least they are lousy ones), I just don’t see this going down any other way. Prove me wrong, world. Prove me wrong.