Let's face the harsh truth — framing the climate crisis to the American public has failed. No, not everywhere, but just enough that we as a society aren't taking it seriously. If we had, then the landmark Inflation Reduction Act would be called the Climate Change Reduction Act. But the average person still sees more impact on their lives from a gallon of gas, versus the deadly hurricanes, storms, droughts, fires and sub-zero temps that have become all too common. So not a surprise in a nation where the majority of adults are under vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, that climate change is not a cause for concern. Climate change deniers exist, and use the position to win elections.
As other nations ban plastics bags and straws, support alternative transport, and invest in public transportation — we lag behind. And, worse, just 20% of our power comes from alternative + non-fossil sources — half the percentage in the EU. So, what's at risk? We know our planet can recover — give it a million years or so and it can heal. But today we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction due to human-induced climate change and destruction of habitat. But we also know that the species of animals and plants we are destroying will not heal, and now we are paying a massive price from the rise of disease to boosting pollution.
So many regular natural disasters are going to push our society to the brink, they are already causing migration, and wars-next comes famine and death.
Scientists have been saying that we can still change 'If we can work on reducing the negative impact we've had on the climate, then things will improve,' they say — and still the big pickup trucks fly off the dealers’ lots and 75% of oil in America is used in personal automobiles.
In 50 years, things will be grim, but don’t build that wind farm near me — or make me bring my own plastic bags to the store…
As we are facing a scenario of human extinction, maybe it's time to change the approach. The US is the 2nd largest polluter on the planet after China, and unless we stop putting out 5,416 million tons of CO2 each year, others will not.
So, from the desk of a communicator, here’s some insight into turning the discussion around:
Less facts. We can share facts from here until tomorrow - and it will not be more than numbers. We need to tie the loss and pain we are facing today to our actions. We need human stories, and show a way ahead that can make our lives better. I know, personally, because in 2017 my family home burned to the ground in an October wildfire - unheard of at the time - and taking everyone by surprise. We lost 200 years of our family history — it is gone, and we will never get that back.
It is not a debate — the facts in the cause are clear. Don’t elevate lies and misinformation. People are dying, whole species being wiped out — and there really is nowhere safe to run. We are killing ourselves. The challenge is to equate this horror to everyday issues: The egg shortage, the high cost of gas, COVID-19, flood insurance, lack of water-all these things are due to climate change, we just need to do the linkage.
Talk about their kids and grandkids — those are the folks whose lives are endangered. But they love their kids? So, make smart choices today, and get the big picture.
Lastly, show a way forward. Fighting climate change has economic benefits, bringing forward new technology, and science. Just landing a human on the moon boosted our technology and science, so can this terrible problem. Yes, we need to make sacrifices, but aside from having clean water and air, it has benefits for everyone too.
So, it's time to be concerned; be direct, and ask the hard questions. And remind everyone that the clock is ticking.