As UN climate talks meander along in South Africa, Grist’s David Roberts says our window for being able to stop catastrophic climate change with small steps may have already closed:
It’s simple: If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, the U.S. and other nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale. That means moving to emergency footing. War footing. “Hitler is on the march and our survival is at stake” footing. That simply won’t be possible unless a critical mass of people are on board. It’s not the kind of thing you can sneak in incrementally.
It is unpleasant to talk like this. People don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to believe it. They bring to bear an enormous range of psychological and behavioral defense mechanisms to avoid it. It sounds “extreme” and our instinctive heuristics conflate “extreme” with “wrong.” People display the same kind of avoidance when they find out that they or a loved one are seriously ill. But no doctor would counsel withholding a diagnosis from a patient because it might upset them. If we’re in this much trouble, surely we must begin by telling the truth about it.
Also today, The Onion looks back at what a science-based response to the climate crisis might have looked like.
UPDATE by Lowell: On this same subject, I strongly encourage everyone to sign this petition, “asking Discovery Channel to air the seventh episode of ‘Frozen Planet’ to tell the whole story about climate change and life at the ends of the Earth.”