The recent spate of snow has brought out the crazies. And I’m not talking about Shaun White. I’m talking about those who, through reductionist thinking, have convinced themselves that this particularly cold winter disproves climate change. But honestly, I’m not even going to get into that debate, because frankly, as I recently posted on a friend’s FB feed, I’m a bit bored of the argument. The truth is that many climate change deniers that I know are informed and intelligent people. And they’re still never going to believe that climate change exists. It might be a little too much WSJ. I know for some people, it has a lot to do with a vehement hatred of Al Gore, who is the poster child for climate change. In the end, the whole debate is irrelevant.
The reason it’s irrelevant is not because I don’t care if Florida, New York City, and other major metro areas are flooded by water in our life time. Or that I don’t love the gorgeous (and quickly receding) ice in Glacier National Park and other areas of the world. It’s simply irrelevant because the same polluters that many of us believe are contributing to climate change are causing enough other indisputably bad shit to happen that we can kill two dirty birds with one stone. Regardless of whether we can convince the denier that climate change exists (I doubt we can), we can still clean up the polluters that, in addition to producing CO2, are producing toxins that poison our air and water.
Coal-powered plants pollute our air and water (*due to the restrictions of my new full-time work schedule, I will not give you my 2 cents on “clean” coal today). Conventional agriculture (which now leads in greenhouse gas emissions here in the US) produces food that is more likely to be contaminated by e coli and other food-born pathogens, produces immense water pollution, robs family farmers of their livelihood, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Gas-powered automobiles also pollute the air, while at the same time strengthening a dependence on foreign oil that is alarming to both sides of the aisle. The beauty industry, an unregulated power-house of chemical production, not only pollutes, but spends millions on marketing to get us to smear toxins directly on our skin (don’t believe me? Check out Skin Deep).
So let’s quite quibbling about semantics when it comes to climate change/global warming and focus instead on the big picture. We’re not living sustainably, we’re poisoning ourselves with pollution, we’re dependent as a nation on a resource that is in extremely limited supply in the long-term. This debate of climate change, in my opinion, has devolved to the point that it detracts (and distracts us) from this frightening big picture.
PS – Lest you think I’m a denier myself, I will provide my favorite link for concrete, visceral proof of climate change: the Extreme Ice Survey.