This guest post from eOz derived from a response to something that I wrote commenting about how the fires in Colorado and heat records falling across the country seemed to have people thinking climate change. eOz’s thoughts merits a posting of its own.
I also work with a variety of clients, many of whom buy into the corporate-sponsored push-back against global climate change out of fear of economic boondoggles, as they see carbon taxes and other measures. But the tide of opinion coming in and going out has left a kernal of doubt in their minds. If we can localize the effects, like the [speaker] noting to his mom that a phenomenon in her back yard is tied to the concept, we are moving with the tide as it comes back in in a way the monied interests cannot deflect.
When Gore’s media campaign foundered politically, many people turned their attention away. Obama’s pollsters and politicos can’t get traction right now. But as individual citizens link the abstract big picture of the global warming hypothesis to what they are seeing in their own back yards, all the vociforous attacks the “drill baby, drill” lobby could mount cannot dislodge that lingering, persistent question in people’s minds. Eventually, some part of the media will pick up on it, in tentative fits and starts. If they don’t get their head bitten off for it, they will try another story, etc..
It is frustrating that time is inexorably moving forward in the natural world while we meandered our way to progress in the political tides going back and forth. But, as Pasteur said, “chance favors the prepared mind” and this issue is rising again in people’s minds. Here in Iowa, the corn crop burning up brings it to people’s minds, even if they only admit to it in private right now. The shattering of temperature records, the fragility of our electrical grid responding to environmental pressures well outside its design envelope and real capability, the seeping of water into porous rock formations along the coast… all impacts of natural processes that, tide in and tide out, trigger the associations in people’s minds that our efforts to keep this issue alive have planted.
The seeds of doubt have been sown. Most have fallen on barren ground, but not all. As some of those seeds find purchase on ready soil and marginal soil, they root in and grow. When farmers in Iowa start wondering as they see their bumper crop whither into economic calamity, more seeds find purchase. As homeowners return to survey the burned-out wreckage of their community in record heat and talk among themselves trying to find reason in the midst of chaos, more seeds find purchase. As people see beach erosion and water welling up in their back yards, more seeds of doubt and wonderment find purchase.
It is painfully slow and frustrating, but the one thing our hyporthesis implies is that nature is already in motion, and no amount of rhetoric can influence that. If we remain prepared, we are getting the chances to provoke real doubt about the competing hypotheses.
I wish we could have gotten past all this human wrangling before now, and there is no assurance that we are not already too late and have missed our best chances. But that is no reason to back down as long as we have breath and media to keep the pressure on. If the tide comes back in stronger this time, riding on doubts in minds across the political spectrum, we need to be ready with plans and proposals to lay down, yet again, before the People when they are ready.
I know you, and many others, have done yeoman’s work in this regard, and it is that preparation which is important. Even if it is “too late” in an absolute sense, mitigation and adaptation when we, as a people, are ready to act is still worthwhile and important. Keep it up. Keep the pressure on. If we can’t mitigate Florida, maybe we can Manhatten. If we can’t head off the processes already underway, we can be ready to help our fellow citizens adapt as best we can when they are ready to respond.
It’s not the best course. It’s not even a good course of action. Those opportunities have, or are, slipping through our fingers. But I do sense the tide is turning again, and this time not at a big picture level. This time it is arising in conversations around the water cooler and in the frustrations of farmers and people whose homes were built too far into the forest. It is rising in a way politicians will finally not be able to hold back, no matter how much corporate money they have at their disposal (or vice versa, it’s getting hard to tell the cause and effect between corporate money and policiticans these days).
The military and insurance industries have already crossed the Rubicon on this. More and more business and government interests will be forced to follow suit. At each juncture; at each crack in their armor; at each moment of doubt, we must be there as a fellow citizen concerned for their welfare. If it’s all we can do, it is still a most worthy cause. Whenever the People are ready again, we best serve them by being prepared to guide them and challenge them to solve problems instead of laying down and giving up.