I went all the way back to my first year of blogging for this one (November 2011). Sad to say, the problem remains and we continue to pretend that it will simply go away — like the Carona virus. More of us need to be aware and involved — though, while the government ignores the big problems that surround us, there are many who do care and who have done remarkable things even in the time since this post was first written. With an election coming up perhaps we can depose some of those in Congress who are the most purblind?

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, recently spoke to a crowd of 600 people at Oregon State University on the topic of global warming. From the story in the local newspaper covering McKibben’s lecture, we read: “McKibben discussed the history of 350.org, the worldwide organizing movement he helped found in 2008. The group’s name stems from research that claims anything more than 350 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is unsafe and will disastrously impact the environment. Scientists estimate the environment currently contains 390 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide.” He is a self-styled “bummer-outer” and yet he continues to draw crowds and sell books while dealing with a very disturbing issue. His message is bleak “It’s the worst thing to happen in the history of our Earth — at least since we’ve been on it.” But the crowds he draws are encouraging  (600 people in attendance at a lecture of this type is quite a remarkable thing!) and he hopes that social networking will help address the problem.

The interesting question here is why we continue to ignore this problem — much as we continue to ignore the problem of overpopulation? The answer, I suspect, is the size of the problem and our reluctance to think about unpleasant, indeed deeply troubling, issues. Further, we tend to ignore problems if they are not in our own back yard. The disturbing thought here is that this problem is in our back yard, whether or not we want to admit it. But we prefer, ostrich-like, to keep our heads buried in the sand of our own ignorance and pretend that things will turn out OK. This is what Jacques Ellul once told us was our response to “the technological imperative,” which focuses on means rather than ends.  We think there is no problem that we cannot fix: someone will come along with a gadget and fix it.

The truth of the matter is that there is no gadget that will fix this problem. And it isn’t simply going to disappear. It is real and it requires, at the outset, that we avoid denial. — which is understandable, but inexcusable.  There are still many people who insist that global warming is a myth. They look at the thermometer, see the low temps and draw the unwarranted conclusion that the globe is not warming. But we must keep in mind the modifier, “global.” In 2010, for example, nineteen nations around the world recorded record high temperatures. And regardless of whether my thermometer reads low temps today, the average here and everywhere else is going up. It is a global issue.

Once we have advanced beyond denial, there are some things we can do to help matters — from the small things like turning down our thermostats and driving more fuel-efficient cars to the larger things like writing our congressmen, supporting companies that are known to be environment friendly, and boycotting those we know to be ignoring their global responsibilities. For example, McKibben’s efforts recently resulted in enough pressure on the President to send the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project back to the State Department for thorough review, effectively killing the project. There is hope and political activism and citizen petitions can be effective even against the giant corporations that would pollute the earth in the name of higher profits for a few. McKibben’s web site expands on these themes. But it all starts by pulling our heads out of the sand and admitting that there is a problem and it is one we need to address. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and to our children’s children.


9 thoughts on “Ostrich-Like

  1. I think we need to give our politicians a choice. They can be paid by us or they can be paid by the companies they represent. But if they choose the latter their voices will be ignored as will their votes. Wee need honest politicians who can vote according to conscience when looking at environmental issues and their cause.

  2. Hugh, McKibben’s learned opinions matter and should be heeded. He spoke of climate change as huge problem in 1989, but that was before fossil fuel companies started ignoring their own science and hiring PR firms to naysay or downplay it. The over-population comment is something we are not addressing as well, as we will have resource issues, like water and food. Keith

    • I do believe we simply find it more comfortable (and comforting) to simply ignore the big problems since we persuade ourselves we cannot do anything. Then, there are those who do something and we discover we have been deluding ourselves. But eventually all will pay attention!

      • Hugh, let’s hope we act with more purpose. I saw Biden said he would rejoin WHO on Day One. Hopefully, he will do the same with the Paris CC Accord. Keith

  3. I think the majority of people are slowly but surely pulling their heads out of the sand, yet far too many are still wearing their blinders … by choice. I think those who call climate change and global warming a ‘hoax’ truly know they are wrong, but … it boils down to money and convenience. They like their temperate home, their big gas-guzzling SUVs, their steaks, the convenience of the plastic bags & bottles. To change those things would require effort … and they are lazy. The U.S. and now Brazil are the two most negligent nations on the planet when it comes to making an environmental effort. We were headed in the right direction, albeit too slowly, but we have reversed course under the current administration. I second David’s motion … he said it well.

    • Yes. David made sense. We need to vote out those who collect their large salaries and simply go through the motions of governing the nation while apparently having no conscience whatever.

      • We need, I think, to raze our current campaign finance laws and start over, limiting severely who can contribute and what amounts. Right now, it’s a free-for-all … Step right up, you billionaires, and buy yourself a president or a member of Congress!

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