Now that the election is over, and Obama finally got around to mentioning climate change in his victory speech – better late than never, although Ms. Wolverine’s nip on the heels would be well deserved – the environmental media is abuzz with speculation about whether or not the president will use his political momentum to exercise leadership on climate change. At Yale Environment360, William Becker writes about actions that Obama might take to begin the shift to a better future. Among the suggested strategies, Becker includes some interesting information on recent polls from the Yale climate change communication project suggesting that a majority of Americans accept anthropogenic climate change and would like to see action at the national and international levels.
If, for the remaining portion of the population, physics and Ms. Wolverine’s sharp teeth aren’t enough to convince of the magnitude of the issue, David Remnick’s eloquent piece in The New Yorker might do the trick. This compelling plea for action emphasizes some points that might appeal to the identity-based political leanings of climate-change deniers. First, the fact that the Pentagon sees climate change as a serious threat – this is an issue of national security. Second, the fact that 50,000 people died in the European heat wave of 2003, and that’s only one of a number of instances of human deaths resulting from severe weather events tied to a warming planet – action on climate change is a moral issue, an issue of the protection not just of cute animals and spectacular glacial scenery, but of human life. And third, insurance companies estimate the annual cost of weather related disasters at $34 billion a year, although they will have to revise those estimates for 2012, since Hurricane Sandy has cost the state of New York alone $33 billion – climate change is an economic issue, an issue not only of the cost to vaguely defined ecosystem services, but of serious damage to private property and business. This sacred triumvirate of conservatism – security, the sanctity of human life, and economic prosperity – should be enough to convince anyone of the need to act. And for climate change action advocates, I wonder if it’s time to change our strategy from one of attempting to educate people about the science, to flat-out manipulating whatever values they respond to. I’m not above such strategies. Talk about god, morality, precious little babies dying of starvation, the need for a strong America and a strong military, the pressures climate change will place on the free market and the economy, as long as it gets stuff done.
In other, more specifically wolverine related news, here’s a short bit from Canada about the personal experiences of park employees with wolverines. It’s on the human interest side, but it’s another account of face-to-face encounters. Enjoy!