It is vitally important not to make connections
McKibben (of 350.org fame) takes on the current reluctance of climate activists and action advocates to link specific extreme weather events (floods in QLD, Pakistan and the US, fires in Victoria and Texas, droughts in the US, Europe and elsewhere) to climate change.
It’s far smarter to repeat to yourself the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods — that’s the important thing. Just be careful to make sure you don’t let yourself wonder why all these record-breaking events are happening in such proximity — that is, why there have been unprecedented megafloods in Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan in the past year. Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years. No, better to focus on the immediate casualties, watch the videotape from the store cameras as the shelves are blown over. Look at the news anchorman standing in his waders in the rising river as the water approaches his chest.
Bill McKibben is right to challenge this. While no individual event is directly caused by global warming, they are made more frequent and more intense. The systemic problem that McKibben talks of is that global warming is the cause of the record breaking extreme weather events – two “hundred year” droughts in the Amazon happening within five years.
Actually, rather than read McKibben’s op-ed, watch the video created by Stephen Thomson which narrates the opinion piece and adds powerful images to it.
It is preaching to the converted, but after the failures of Cophenhagen, defeat of climate action in the US Congress, Australia and elsewhere, and the rise of climate deniers funded by extremists like the Koch Brothers, it’s important to remind “true believers” that we still need to do something.
(Thanks to Grist for highlighting the op-ed and video.)