Exciting as it is though, we're (still) not focused on the message. Some of the participants were spot on, but the media coverage doesn't quite bring it home (only quotes from Sec. Kerry get it right in this entire NY Times article...he's in better, on-message company in the LA Times...look below the jump for Fox News).
Here's the skinny. Climate change is not about the planet. Seriously. Forget the environmental bumper sticker that says "Save the Planet"...switch it in your head with one that reads "Save Ourselves". The planet will keep on turning. It's the environmental systems that WE all depend on for our well-being...those are on a rapid and accelerating pathway to horrorville. Repeat after me: caring about climate change means you care about people, especially yourself.
It's really common to say "care about the future, care on behalf of your children"...there's an entire company dedicated to the principle of caring seven generations into the future. It's lovely and not untrue, but you don't have to think about your grandchildren and beyond either. It's completely OK to be selfish and care about your own self-preservation on this....because thinking selfishly will keep you motivated in the longer term. And we need that sustained amount of caring to be...well...sustainable!
Hang your eco hat on the following....if you support the reduction in greenhouse gas pollution to the point where it minimizes the impacts on the systems YOU depend on, those systems are so interconnected and so global that you will be protecting other species and each other. See how that works? It's amazing!
And for those of us who care about equality, fairness and justice (all of us? no?): the impacts of climate change will be felt most by the people from countries that contributed the least GHG pollution. That's really unfair. This is called "environmental justice", and it basically says that the developed world will be more resilient, experience fewer casualties and have the wealth to try to adapt where the developing world will not. The sadface poster child for this is Bangladesh, a developing economy with significant poverty that contributes 0.3% of GHG emissions globally...but by 2050, an estimated 17% of the country will become submerged, displacing 18 million people.
Bangladesh too far away for you to picture? How about picturing all those American cities that were built around harbors and ship yards and are therefore at or near sea-level? The unenviable "club" of cities with over 300,000 population and at least 30% of the area less than 6 meters above sea level includes: New Orleans, Miami, New York, Boston, Long Beach, Tampa, Virginia Beach. Book your tickets to see these sights in the next couple decades my friends.
We may not experience the same amount of casualties, but man, it's going to be REALLY expensive. Hundreds of billions of dollars expensive. And it's not just about our friends who live in these cities getting around town, but the infrastructure for our entire nation's commerce (ports! highways! highways to ports!). About one quarter of all imports for the U.S. comes into Long Beach port...and studies show a longer term shutdown of just Long Beach could shave 0.35-0.5% of our GDP. These ports are simply not prepared.
Remember how I linked to NY Times and LA Times coverage of the climate march? Well Fox News covered it too. They had to, 310,000 is a lot of peeps! And in typical fashion they took it in a seemingly un-eco direction. But now that you know the huge costs of climate change adaptation...get this! Fox News proves that most people care about this and just don't know it yet. Aha! They interviewed a really impartial person from an energy think tank to downplay the importance of climate change, and he cited a poll where 41% of Americans cared about economic problems to 1% on the environment. I consider this a HUGE WIN. Because that means all we have to do is have conversations about the real costs of climate change that will really happen to our wallets. Do you have hundreds of billions of dollars to spare? Didn't think so!
Like moth to a flame, I really "liked" playing with this tool to show the number of U.S. cities impacted by sea level rise by decade through 2100. I clicked on decades for when I might retire and thought "yep, was never going to pick Florida anyways". It's only by state, but I'm pretty sure my current beachside spot in LA is underwater then too. Looks like I've got to enjoy it while it lasts!
Did this help you "win" your next eco chat on the People's Climate Change Rally? What motivates you to care about climate change?