Why Doesn't Direct Experience of Extreme Climate Push Us to Action?
If you’ve even been half-awake the last month, you can’t have missed the climate emergency sirens are going off all over the planet:
- Wildfires raging across the American west, with billowing smoke drifting into cities and national parks
- Record-setting rainfall in Houston
- Extreme flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, displacing millions
- Unprecedented heat wave in San Francisco
- Record-shattering hurricane wind speeds in the Caribbean
- Persistent drought in many parts of Australia
- …and many others, some not widely reported in mainstream media
Yet, as a species, we’re doing our best not to connect the dots. It’s doubly hard when many confuse “weather” with “climate.” Listen carefully to experts such as MIT’s Kerry Emanuel (short video here). While we can’t say with complete certainty “climate change caused such and such a weather event,” we can say, for example, that we’re going to get a lot more water where we don’t want it and a lot less where we do. [See Climate Central's Extreme Weather Graphics] Even people who experienced the above events directly may not see a link to climate change…
Why do you think we’re having such trouble here??
I’m definitely aware of media and corporate complicity in downplaying the risk – why else do we continue to invest billions in real estate on or near harbors (e.g., in Boston’s Seaport District!) and coastlines that are clearly at significant climate risk?
But, maybe another key factor lies inside us.
Have a look at George Marshall’s Don’t Even Think About it: Why our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change (and reviewed here) – and let’s talk – online on ClimateX, that is!