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Addressing Climate Change: Connect It to the Daily News, and Heat

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Maybe it's because we're at 9,600 feet in the Colorado Rockies that we can think with cool heads about the heat that has been boiling East Coast bodies and minds recently -- and the fact that we study the effects of global warming on subalpine ecosystems up here, summer, after summer, after summer. We listen in disbelief as everyone complains about the record heat, yet not one of the major newscasters -- NOT ONE -- mentions climate change as a factor when talking about it. An influential but unfortunately not mainstream newscaster, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, did make the connection. She announced a new analysis showing that current pledges made by nations to address global warming will not prevent a 4 degrees Celsius (about 8 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature by 2100. Meanwhile, she notes, developing countries have long warned that temperatures should not rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid environmental catastrophe.

This illustrates the great disconnect, the one that drives our inadequate response to the largest environmental crisis that faces civilization's existence. We repeatedly fail to connect climate change daily to the news events of our lives, even when it's staring us in the face. We repeatedly miss opportunities to educate the body politic on why we must transition to clean energy as soon as possible. Yeah, the oil spill is really bad news. But that's a mosquito bite. Climate change is a cancer. Not convinced? The oil spill claimed nine human lives, rather flamboyantly. The unusually strong heat waves that our planet has been experiencing within the past decade are responsible for the quiet deaths of many thousands of people. And that's just the beginning, because it's getting worse.

And we're not even acknowledging this cancer's daily, spreading existence in our lives. Take the current heat waves, one of the most obvious manifestations. No, just like you can't pinpoint any one particular case of lung cancer to smoking, you can't pinpoint any one particular heat wave to the climate change resulting from global warming. But longer, stronger heat waves are predicted as a result of climate change. So, what's happening right now fits what we expect under climate change. But if no one says so, it's easy to act like a bunch of frogs in a pot of water slowly coming to a boil. Frogs? Are WE frogs? Is the US Congress a fracas of frogs? So far, they're acting like it, even as one of their beloved and venerated members, Robert Byrd, was pushed into the arms of the grim reaper by the extra heat recently.

What to do? This is a duh moment. Stop acting like a frog. Boycott fossil fuels. Write letters to the editors. Complain to your news outlets when they fail to mention the "C-C" phrase in the news, whether it's the unusual droughts, floods, blizzards, insect epidemics destroying our forests, wildfires, dying coral reefs, storms, spread of tropical diseases, acidifying oceans, or whatever scenario that is predicted to worsen under climate change. Climate change is bad for the economy, and a transition to clean energy is good for the economy. It's that simple.

As our free online book on addressing climate change describes in great detail, climate change is with us now, every day, and the newscasters and reporters should be acknowledging it daily in their stories. Email your representatives and President Obama to let them know that you'll vote them out before you let your family boil, sicken, or die from not transitioning to clean energy fast enough. The current heat wave might wane, but there will be more and worse to come, if we don't act soon.

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