For those of us in the reality-based community who have been paying attention, the increasing problem of global warming is not a surprise. The scientific community has been in agreement for more than a decade, with only a very few dissenters whose work seemed to be supported by fossil fuel interests. The problem has always been that the majority of Americans seemed not to care, even as science predicted that global warming would make weather disasters more frequent, and would disrupt many elements of our daily lives. How, we wondered, do you convince someone to care?
Well, Time magazine is certainly on the right track. This week’s issue features a cover story on global warming, with the headline:
Be Worried. Be Very Worried.
The CNN summary includes gems such as:
From heat waves to storms to floods to fires to massive glacial melts, the global climate seems to be crashing around us.
. . .
And with sea ice vanishing, polar bears are starting to turn up drowned. “There will be no polar ice by 2060,” says Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. “Somewhere along that path, the polar bear drops out.”
. . .
So much environmental collapse has at last awakened much of the world, particularly the 141 nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty to reduce emissions. The Bush administration, however, has shown no willingness to address the warming crisis in a serious way and Congress has not been much more encouraging.
My initial reaction to this story is anger, because for so long scientists, environmentalists, and everyday people like me have been trying to get people’s attention, and only now, when it may be too late, is the public awakening to the danger. When I think of the time lost because of the arrogant laziness of our leaders (current and former), or of the delays caused by transparently deceitful “research” produced by fossil fuel companies, it makes me furious. Our planet, after all, is our home. We have no other. And we have been treating it very badly.
Yet at the same time I realize that perhaps the time is coming when we in the United States might finally begin to address global warming. From this perspective, the Time cover story will help to arouse people’s interest. The sooner we start fixing the problem, the better.