Human-Created or Not, Why Not Try to Stop the Warming?

The New York Times op-ed by James Hansen, who is the Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies should give anyone pause about the future of our planet.

It never fails to amaze me when I hear people question whether human activity is impacting global warming. There is no question among scientists that the planet is warming – the scientific evidence is conclusive on this. And even if, for the sake of argument, human activity is not causing global warming, why would we not want to take action to slow the warming trend?

It seems that attention to this issue has lessened in recent years and I am not sure why. In the meantime, we have seen a devastating proliferation of hurricanes and tornadoes and heat waves and wildfires. I am no scientist, but I put a lot of faith in the knowledge and understanding of experts.

Given the persistent outcry from the scientific community about the perils of inaction, why don’t more policymakers stand up and take action on this issue? Is it because the corporations who are funding political campaigns are afraid that caring for the environment will negatively impact their bottom line?

It reminds me of the smoke-free movement in some ways. Bars, restaurants and casinos consistently proclaimed that they would have to close their doors if a state passed a smoke-free law. We all know that that is not what actually happened once laws were enacted.

The science was clear regarding the harms of tobacco, much like the science is clear about climate change. But the arguments for smoke-free laws were related to harming to people’s health; stopping climate change is just about protecting mother earth.

Perhaps environmentalists could link their arguments more to the impacts of climate change on people’s health. I know that some groups have made this connection, but it seems to get drowned out by the ongoing debate about the science and whether or not global warming is actually occurring.

Sometimes it seems that the environmental messages are too varied, maybe because the implications of inaction are so broad. If there was a way to focus the message on the impact climate change will have on people, the arguments might get more traction with the public.

I am just thinking out loud here and know that there are a lot of people with much more knowledge about the politics and science of this issue than me. I would love to hear your thoughts!

What do you think? And thank you for reading!

7 Comments

Filed under Environment, Health, Policy, Politcs, Role of Government, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Human-Created or Not, Why Not Try to Stop the Warming?

  1. Good blog! I do think that those who don’t deny global warming (and we can leave them out of the equation because they have their heads in a dark place) are overwhelmed by the problem and don’t know where to start. Meanwhile, the Congress, which might actually be able to do something, is in the pocket of the companies that don’t want change because it will cut into their profits. So we seem to be treading water and it will be like that until there is a crisis that forces those in a position to do something to finally act — if it’s not too late.

  2. Great post. My Dad works with people who say “hey, volcanoes emit carbon, so why do we need to worry if we do?” I just have to shake my head and sigh. I’m sure a big part of why global warming has been less of an issue lately is that people are more focused on economy/jobs. What they don’t understand, of course, is that if we focused government resources on R&D and manufacturing of green tech, we could get out of the recession that much faster.
    I liked the thing about the smoking bans. To me, the climate change deniers (always funded by the oil companies) remind me a lot of the arguments that tobacco companies made back in the 60s/70s etc, saying that it was good for your health, paying off scientists to lie… Just like the oil companies have gotten some unscrupulous scientists to lie about climate change.

    • Thanks for the reply. I agree with you completely about the economy and the environment not having to be an either/or thing. I really like what i have heard and read from Van Jones on this issue. He has found a great way to talk about green jobs as one of the answers to helping the economy and workers. Thanks again for your comment! I am a new blogger, so I REALLY appreciate the interaction and feedback.

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