We must reconsider our approach to combating climate change in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to limit the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency’s) powers to control power plant emissions. The man-on-the-moon moment has arrived for our generation. But this time, the stakes involve our own planet.
Changes must be made in the manner, content, and audience of climate discourse.
Changes in global atmospheric patterns are not what practitioners like myself are talking about when we discuss climate change. It refers to the number of days this summer when people will have to choose between buying groceries, taking medication, and turning on their air conditioner. If the closest cooling center is 30 miles away, having one in a rural area is of limited use. They require fans, knowledge on how to reduce their body temperature, and assistance in identifying and minimizing their exposure and danger.
During the previous ten years of my professional life, I’ve observed America go through the stages of a disaster: denial, consideration of options, and finally, the choice to act. We were effectively shifted from denial to consideration by climate communication. Both the problem and the solutions are things we are aware of. And this is where we are at the moment. Deliberation, decision-making, and action are all necessary steps.
This first requires a message change. Focusing on what we stand to lose sends a message that is considerably weaker than emphasizing what we will gain. Most individuals find it challenging to comprehend risk since it is laden with unknowns. In a situation where there are so many conflicting narratives clogging social media, depending on people to conclude that the risk of inaction outweighs the risk of action is futile.
Whether or not climate change is genuine should no longer be a topic of discussion. Instead, we ought to inspire imaginations with concrete, well-thought-out proposals that demonstrate how we may alter the course of history. The effects will be similar to those of the development of indoor plumbing, antibiotics, and vehicle.
Second, there needs to be a change in how climate information is delivered. Science was what we needed to move us from denial to consideration. The practitioners who are putting in the hard job of fusing science with action are the ones who can guide us from consideration to conclusion right now. We determine who is at risk and how every day, we specify the boundaries of suggested remedies, and we assist communities in developing resilience and adaptability.
This is not meant to minimize the importance of science or scientists. Both are essential. We can now take action since a new generation of scientists and climate communication specialists has emerged.
Last but not least, we need to accept that a political solution might not lead to the desired result. Even with widespread popular support, the political situation in our country right now makes it difficult to take climate action. Gerrymandering and the infusion of private funds into the political process have hijacked the process, similar to how gun safety standards were handled.
The generation involved in the space race thought that the government might be at the forefront of a technological revolution. This system is no longer in place. The earth has moved. It is unsuccessful to try to persuade politicians to do action.
This does not imply that we give up on policy solutions. It implies that in order to reform policy, we collaborate with the business sector as well. As the first line of defense against the worst effects currently taking place, it means we give local and county leaders the authority to establish preparedness cultures and 30-year recovery plans.
The majority of emergency scenarios have calm crowds, which can be startling. According to some 9/11 victim tales, folks descended the stairs without any trepidation. Climate change, unlike 9/11, is not a sudden occurrence, but I believe we are witnessing a similar human phenomenon in action.
We acknowledge its reality. Disaster is taking place. The steps we need to take have been carefully considered. We know the answers. But the time it takes us to make decisions and take action seems to be moving slowly and taking considerably longer than what experts think is necessary.
A window is about to shut. Although there is still time, further describing the catastrophe won’t be able to create the necessary urgency. According to research, the least common response to a calamity is not panic but rather inaction. That is ineffective. Instead, we must create a new course inside the framework of the current system, not the one we wish existed. The only issue at hand is whether or not we’ll be driving this contemporary space race, or just following along.
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