It’s hot, plain and simple. It was 104 today and is expected to be at least 106 tomorrow. It’s hard to ignore my memories as a kid, and while I can remember summers obviously being hot, I don’t remember them being quite so hot even fifteen years ago. And it’s getting hot sooner. Winter was more of an extended fall that flip-flopped with spring like a GOP presidential candidate before it ultimately just became completely unbearable for my children to even play outside for more than fifteen minutes. I can remember summers when my mother put us outside for an entire day, forbidding us reentry until sundown, and never once worried about heat exhaustion. According to Elizabeth Elwood of Boston College in a livescience.com article, one hundred and sixty years of first bloom records for flowers at Walden Pond (beginning with observations by Thoreau himself) show that it is getting progressively warmer in the spring and sooner, causing flowers to bloom ten days earlier than in the day of Thoreau. And weather patterns are getting more extreme. It’s hard not to notice the writing on the wall. So why are people not at a consensus about the issue?
Unfortunately, everything is political. Furthermore, there are corporate profits at stake. And when the two are in bed together, their offspring is rarely something of beauty. We end up, as with the case of so many of our other social and political issues, only hearing the extreme arguments from the polar ends of the spectrum. And no good solutions ever come from these places. Society has become more polarized on almost every topic. Politicians and media figures end up thinking for an American public too worried about Honey Boo Boo to educate themselves and form an opinion. And to get the attention of our ADD-afflicted nation, the news, unfortunately has to be extreme. So on the issue of climate change, we either hear the gloom-and-doom Al Gore prognosis of rapidly rising seas and hypercanes, or we hear the Exxon-serving assurance that it’s all a hoax or completely natural. As with most issues, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle with a combination of human and natural causes. But the logical, moderate, adult public discussion doesn’t get anyone’s attention. Furthermore, most of us aren’t climatologists, though many people watch enough MSNBC or Fox to pretend they are. They can regurgitate the talking points without really knowing what it all means, but if you gave them a data sheet with graphs, studies, and statistics, their faces would look like that of Sarah Palin writing a book report. So it is my humble opinion that we’re making the wrong argument for the environment.
We can drone on for days about carbon emissions, ice ages, weather patterns, and solar energy. But most people look at you like a dog that hears a high-pitched sound. If you want people to use cleaner energy, buy hybrid cars, recycle, and generally watch their carbon footprints, don’t cite the scientific facts. As much as I hate the dumbing down of America, you can use it to your advantage. Find something we can all agree on. Simply use the “clean house” argument. Would you rather live in a clean or dirty house? We can see the trash on the ground at the park. We can see the oil spill into the wetlands. We can see the brown haze veiling the downtown skyline. Most people would agree that they wouldn’t want to live in filthy conditions at their personal residences. So why would they want that for their environment in general? It doesn’t matter who or what is causing climates to change worldwide or why. Living in a clean environment is better than living in a polluted one, and as soon as we start working toward that, the world is going to be a better place to live for everyone.