My Turn: It’s time to get angry about climate change

For the Monitor
Published: 7/19/2019 9:26:52 AM
Modified: 7/19/2019 9:26:41 AM

For the sake of your children and grandchildren, what will get you angry enough to do something about global climate change?

Anger will be necessary because powerful and wealthy interests have subverted the science and controlled the discourse. How much knowledge would it take for you to feel informed enough to speak with a confident voice?

Here are some answers.

On Friday, Sept. 20, there’s going to be a worldwide general strike to protest inaction on the global climate crisis. Students will walk out of schools, and people will take a day off from work to raise their voices in a public place.

Regarding your readiness to speak knowledgeably, here are some books to consider:

In Field Notes from a Catastrophe, author Elizabeth Kolbert visits research scientists at the sites of their research and hears about their work. With the help of experts, she explains computer modeling and the dangers of ocean acidification, and visits a tar sands mine in Alberta. You will be schooled on the scale of global warming and the alarming rate at which it is happening.

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway tells the story of how a small group of scientists sowed doubt and disinformation about the science of tobacco and cancer, acid rain, ozone holes, second-hand smoke and global climate change. The effort was well-funded through affected corporations, think tanks, trade associations and front groups. They were consistently wrong. Then read the Climate Deception Dossiers on the Union of Concerned Scientists website.

Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate Change makes the case that capitalism is not the answer to the global climate crisis but is an obstacle. Its infatuation with growth, consumption, fossil fuels, environmental deregulation and sacrificing the common good for self-interest is the opposite of what needs to be done.

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists (peer-reviewed!) are in agreement on global climate change. Predicted weather events (flooding, wildfires, heat waves, etc.) have increased, and the melting of the polar caps and permafrost is happening faster than expected. We have no idea what tipping points and feedback loops await us.

Educator and philosopher Pablo Freire: “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and powerless means to side with the powerful.” The powerless here are our children and grandchildren.

(Allan MacDonald lives in New London.)

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