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Getting Beyond our Differences

climate titanicI have to admit that I thought this was an apt portrayal of different peoples perspectives about climate change when I first saw it. I also realize that some people will react negatively to this as an arrogant perspective of a very complicated challenge. True. So lets take a look at our immediate reactions to this issue of a changing climate a little more deeply. After all we need to find common ground for working together and dealing with the global challenge of a climate gone rogue.

My first reaction to this picture is followed quickly by one that says not all Republicans deny the existence of climate change and not all Democrats believe it’s an important issue. Of course not. Unfortunately, it has been politicized – leading to even more polarization. So lets look at the numbers and start our conversation from there.

According to a climate perspectives study called The Six Americas – see graphic below. -there appears to be about 9% percent of our population who would fall into the “Dismissive” category.

Six Americas12% are doubtful and 7% are too busy – they are disengaged. In my life I have moved right up this series of perspectives. When I first heard about my impact on the climate I was doubtful. It seemed unbelievable that my actions could have anything to do with the vast atmosphere around the Earth. I ended up studying Earth Science and have had the opportunity to see and peruse some of the data that has been generated. 50 years of testing and assessing the basic assumptions have just made the case stronger.

So over the years I became more and more aware of how our climate was changing, and changing at a rate much faster than normal. Faster than the detailed geologic record (that we have amassed) reveals for climates that have occurred in the past. This rapid warming correlates with the rapid increase in carbon emissions from our Industrial Age. So I am well into the concerned category of the above graph by now.

Going back to the initial cartoon I realize that most of us don’t have all the data. So being at the back of the Titanic might lead to disbelief. It is interesting how people who have been harmed by the negative impacts of our changing climate – those on the front of the ship – are changing their minds. Many of them are not just calling for action to repair their homes and lives but also action to slow down the rate of change. We cannot stop the change very quickly but if we work together we can certainly slow down the warming. So the real question is what are the best ways to do that. I wonder if we can get enough people from all ends of the ship to sit down long enough to agree on a range of approaches that we can deploy now.


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