Lately, the news is ablaze with reports about the wildfires burning out west. Climate scientists, to the chagrin of many climate change deniers, have published studies that indicate how climate change is exacerbating wildfires, as noted recently in the Huffington Post and New York Times, just for starters.
Surely, environmental activists have been repeatedly frustrated by the denial crowd’s steadfast rejection of anything implying a more complicated dynamic in nature than they would allow, as a means of abasing concern and therefore action on environmental issues.
No academics are saying explicitly that global warming caused this fire, that drought, or those tornadoes. In the world of anthrogenic climate change, change happens over time, one subtle increment after another resulting in different long-term trends. And, as we all know by now, in the world of politically tainted discourse, subtlety knows no quarter. Perhaps debating with deniers is a lost cause, but what about the many who are “on the fence” so to speak, and the many more who are simply apathetic to the necessity of renewable energy?
The thing is, for the sake of conveying urgency in climate and renewable energy action, there exists an abundance of not so subtle, perhaps even ridiculous examples of environmental degradation that tie directly into fossil fuel consumption and thus global warming. From entire mountains disappearing in Appalachia and the ensuing toxic runoff, to people apparently being able to ignite their tap water on fire as seen in the 2010 documentary, “Gasland”, to the now infamous Gulf Spill, what exactly does it take to get people to engage?
Unfortunately, a major hurdle appears to be that only when a community is unambiguously and dramatically affected by some form of environmental issue do they take action. But, massive grassroots action is needed immediately to curtail the eventual dramatic consequences of say, a subtle increase in global temperature. Icecaps and glaciers worldwide are already melting at alarming rates, threatening our coastal cities. By the time these cities are inundated and there is no room for apathy, it will be too late. Ideas anyone?