Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Will It Take 1,000 Twin Tornadoes to Wake Americans to the Threat of Climate Change?
"It was as if God scraped two fingernails across the land"- Resident of Pilger, Nebraska, following the town being struck by twin tornadoes
The disaster that wiped out the town of Pilger, NE is still being processed and its residents understandably remain in a state of shock after twin tornadoes bore down yesterday. While we know and can admit that no single, isolated event is evidence of climate change it is also true that the pattern of climate anomalies especially in terms of increasing frequency and intensity does disclose a definite signal. In the same vein, one can regard the increasing diameter of hail, which has now reached baseball size here in Colorado, as part of that signal. Interviews with farmers and others in the Denver Post and on local news indicated in living memory they've never beheld such phenomena. I warrant the residents of most of the U.S. and the Midwest in particular, have never before beheld a twin tornado forming before their very eyes either.
This is germane as new surveys indicate Americans are the most scientifically- regressed people in the world, in terms of accepting climate change and its consequences. Only 40 percent of Americans, according to a new global survey conducted by TIME, "strongly agreed the Earth is getting warmer". What planet are these dolts living on? It can't be this one unless they're deaf, dumb and blind and holed up in a cellar somewhere.
Nor are the drastic consequences in the distant future as anyone who's been following 'The Years of Living Dangerously' can attest, or those in Miami Beach who beheld sunny-day flooding in their area - as reported by a NY Times story in May.('Miami Finds Itself Ankle Deep in Climate Change Debate') The sea level increase is also triggering ecological changes, especially to the Everglades, e.g.
Nor is it just Miami. While in Barbados last month, we beheld a number of once beautiful gold sand beaches being reclaimed by the sea. One Ph.D. scientist we spoke with related that he estimates nearly 20 percent of Bajan beaches have eroded significantly in the past 10 years. For some guest houses and hotels, there's no beach at all. Guests can literally step from their back porches right into the sea.
What we do know is that Climate change has already left its mark "on all continents and across the oceans", damaging food crops, spreading disease, and melting glaciers.
According to a UK Guardian Report, e.g.
"Some parts of the world could soon be at a tipping point. For others, that tipping point has already arrived. "Both warm water coral reef and Arctic ecosystems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts," the approved version of the report will say."
"The gravest of those risks was to people in low-lying coastal areas and on small islands, because of storm surges, coastal flooding and sea-level rise."
NY Times' columnist Nicholas Kristoff, several months ago, noted a contest he'd held for the "Neglected Topic" winner among his columns. By a large margin it was climate change with one person comparing it to "staring down an asteroid". This is not exaggeration, other in terms of the time scale. If we fail to act decisively and dramatically our species will experience as much devastation as if a Torino scale 9 asteroid had hit. What are we doing about it? Nothing of substance! Even Kristoff admitted:
"We in the news media manage to cover weather very aggressively but we are reticent on climate."
He adds that the coverage of climate has actually declined in American media since 2007 - according to researchers at the University of Colorado. As this media attention factor has declined, so also have the proportion of Americans who accept global warming is real. Of course, the largest divergence is between Republicans (24% accept it) and Democrats (65%).
Clearly, the Repukes are the anti-science party and may well be the climate terrorist party as well - as they now dig in to thwart any House budgeting for Obama's EPA mandates. Without money, the Rs reason, how can Obama or the EPA implement anything? So, they are prepared to increase carbon loads to get their way.
Why are Americans seemingly so obtuse on the climate issue? (On almost every survey question Americans were the least likely to back the scientific consensus on climate change.) Why so far behind perceptions compared to other nations? I attribute most of the basis to the corruption of American brains via the use of agnotology. Agnotology is derived from the Greek word 'agnosis' : the study of culturally constructed ignorance. It is achieved primarily by sowing the teeniest nugget of doubt in whatever claim is made. Stanford historian of science Robert Proctor has correctly tied it to the trend of skeptic science sown deliberately and for political or economic ends . In other words, the supporters of agnotology - whoever they may be- are all committed to one end: destroying the science to enable economic profit and hence planetary ruin. Proctor also notes these special interests are often paid handsomely to sow immense confusion on the issue.
The concept is simple: sow enough doubt, portray denial as a "logical" counterpoint to acceptance, and you win. The Neoliberal media then presents both sides - and hails it as evidence of their "objectivity". As Nicholas Krisfoff pointed out this cynical trend is already paying dividends as the media retreats from the issue, and Americans follow their lead with fewer accepting it as real. Would they do the same if a mammoth asteroid approached? I doubt it, but then human brains simply don't process slow moving catastrophes in the same way.
This is why I say it may take a really anomalous and destructive event - like 1,000 twin tornadoes striking nationwide- to get Americans to wake up. The reason is because the other part of their denial and reduced import and priority of climate change, is to do with not having the experience themselves. Hence, millions of Americans - comfy in their recliners - stare at the tube and see the devastation of floods, fires or twin tornadoes - but believe these are rare or exceptional events because they haven't occurred in their locales. Because they haven't had that experience, they dismiss climate change-global warming as either "not as bad" as scientists think, or "rare".
I project that by the end of this year, or the next, the percentage of 'Muricans with their heads in the sands will change noticeably because many more climate-related events are due. The summer, in fact, hasn't even begun (it won't until the summer solstice on June 21st).
Maybe mass, climate-related destruction is the only language many Americans can grasp to rouse them from their agnotology stupor.