A Climate of Change: Have We Become OK With Watching Earth Melt?

The elephant in the room at the presidential debates was climate change.

 According to a piece in Slate, this year the candidates spent a total of five minutes and 27 seconds on the subject. That’s better than 2012, when candidates didn’t mention it at all. This year was about even with 2008 and 2004, but a distant low from 2000 when the candidates talked about climate change for a bit over 14 minutes.
No one talked about climate change much because not many voters seem worried about it. Yes, lots of people think the climate is changing, but a recent poll found that only 32 per cent of us fear climate change. More Americans – 42 per cent – fear clowns. Among those who think it is happening, people are split over its cause. Most Democrats think humans cause climate change. Most Republicans think it’s just a natural phenomenon. Worldwide, most women believe in conservation, most men do not.
Therein lies the problem. If we think the ecosystem doesn’t need preserving, we won’t preserve it. If we think climate change just happens, then nothing can be done about it. But if we think humans cause it, then we can change the behaviors and practices that encourage it.
Meanwhile the evidence piles up that we’re approaching a point of no return. Geologists, who divide the history of the planet in epochs, now think we should call ours, the Anthropocene, because we humans affect the earth more than any other factor. Short of a natural catastrophe, we will continue as the determining influence.
Our impact reaches from Greenland’s melting ice to south Florida’s coastal flooding. It includes the bad air that sickens us, increasing the likelihood of heart disease and stroke, and which is now implicated in the onset of Alzheimer’s. It’s blamed for the intensification of wildfires across the Western United States and extreme weather around the planet, like the typhoons hitting Taiwan and the intense hurricanes crippling Haiti.
Sometimes we humans do rise to the challenge. Last year’s Paris climate change agreement has now crossed the threshold for ratification. The agreement required at least 55 nations that, together, produce 55 per cent of the global greenhouse emissions to sign on. By early October, 77 countries representing 60 percent had signed on. In November of this year, the world’s nations will meet to map the next steps, attempting to keep the planet’s temperature from reaching the 3 degrees Celsius level that would jeopardize much of life on Earth.
Meanwhile,in Kigali, Rwanda, a conference of nations agreed to ban hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which for nearly 30 years have been used to replace the ozone-depleting gasses once found in refrigerators and air conditioners – but which have also been discovered to greatly contribute to global warming. And negotiators also cut a deal to decrease aviation fuel emissions. It can be done.

Read the entire article at capitalandmain.com