October 2, 2019 and the newscast says it hit 97 degrees in Washington, DC. But that’s over there, not here! Here, at 6:00 PM, it is only 87.
And, yes, we all know that talking about one day is only “weather,” not climate. Even six weeks with no rain is just another blip, right?
Here, in Talbot County in 2019, who is denying that global climate change is really afoot? And who have you met who says, yes, the global climate seems to be changing, but it’s just a natural cycle, not induced by humankind? Article after article has been laying out the accumulating evidence for years—decades really– in both the popular press and scientific journals. It is mountainous. And the ramifications of the serious global warming that is coming could be an existential challenge, not to our adaptable species, but certainly to the (semi-) stable world order of nation-states, economies, and the communities more directly exposed than we are. What we’ve all sown our grandchildren and their progeny will reap in decades to come.
It was “the Greta phenomenon” that triggered this column, brought up by others at least three times in the past week at social events and discussed at length. Based on the reaction, it’s clear her harsh and stinging rebuke of you and me—the supposed adults in the room—hit its mark. (If you only heard about it, and missed this 15-year-old’s full indictment, Google “Greta UN speech.”)
I’ve heard both of the arguments knocking “the Greta thing.” First, that the poor young lady is a dupe. She has been manipulated, unknowingly or not, by unconscionable zealots who stop at nothing to proselytize alarmist views. And second, from climate change deniers, that she is simply wrong about the threat: whether from the mouths of babes or peer-reviewed journals, climate change alarm is wrong. Or if it is real, it’s not a man-made problem and would be too expensive and difficult to deal with anyway.
I have only one contribution to the discussion: I would urge that anyone seriously interested in this topic read the definitive article on how we came to the spot we’re in. The article, entitled “Losing Earth” by Nathaniel Rich, was published in the New York Times Magazine Section in August of 2018 (link below) and painstakingly details the history of the climate-change debate in the USA from 1979-1989. This decade was a short window when we almost got in front of the problem globally, when we came within a hair’s breadth of changing history for the better. The moment we dropped the ball, in the author’s view. It is a long piece, but a real education.
IMO, if Greta Thunberg can give that speech before the UN, the least we can do is take the time to understand our own history, how we came to be in this place.