The Missing Story Line

Baton Rouge is under water. A huge swath of San Bernardino County is on fire.

Your morning paper, the TV news, Google, Twitter et. al. relay the tragic details: homes destroyed, communities evacuated, lives turned upside down.

But something is missing. Why are we seeing super storms that drop two feet of rain in a day? Why is each fire season more devastating that the last?

If you managed to delve as deep as the science ghetto in a newspaper last week, you may have noticed this headline: “NASA reports that July was ‘absolutely’ Earth’s hottest month ever recorded.” Of course July was nothing special. In the global warming Olympics, we have won 16 gold medals in the past 16 months.

Is this making you crazy? I hope so. It’s time for all of us to get crazy together.

After Pearl Harbor was attacked, every American knew the story line: Fascism was on the march. Our survival as a nation was threatened. Uncle Sam wanted every American to join the fight.

Climate change is an even greater threat than Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. This time we are not just fighting for democracy. We are fighting for survival.

If you are connecting dots, you know that you are watching a global warming Pearl Harbor in slow motion. Katrina, Baton Rouge, years of drought, record fires, disappearing snow packs: each strike is more powerful than the one before.

But climate change bombs are spaced out over months and years, so our editors and journalists treat each disaster like a separate event. This allows our political leaders and even our big environmental organizations play business as usual. We upgrade a power plant here and increase vehicle efficiency there. Meanwhile we are pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere faster than ever. This is a scenario that leads only to one final frame: the end.

If you feel as though you are on the Titanic watching the deck tilt while everyone else is dancing, here are three things you can do.

First read Bill McKibben’s article, A World at War, in the current New Republic. (The link is on my Facebook page at facebook.com/mcdiarmuid.)

Then write a letter to the editor, any editor. The message: “Hey guys, get the story line right. Disasters like Baton Rouge and the Blue Cut fire are all about climate change. Let’s get serious about covering global warming.”

Finally, write to an elected official. The message: “Hey guys, no more procrastinating. No more piecemeal measures. Let’s go to war. Cap greenhouse gases and rebuild the energy economy. Do it now or we are finished.”