A New Climate Reality: What Happens Now?

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by Janet Ritz

In a prior post, A New Climate Reality, I wrote how difficult it has been for specialists to face the more personal aspects of climate change. Some of those who know the science and say, yes, this is really happening, are more easily drawn to the lure of cold data over harsh reality, while those who don't believe take out their fear on those who do in a bizarre spate of bullying that seems to have become the norm in our sadly coarsened society.
The world changes so fast, it's difficult to see it in context. Scientists watch from a mathematical point of view, points on a graph, comparative analyses, blips on radar from sensors slapped on the bows of ships. Dry bits of brain matter fight the brain freeze caused by information overload of drought in the Southwest, typhoon-caused floods in Bangladesh, tornadoes in the Midwest, and where's all that snow coming from? It begins to look horrifyingly familiar: one person's agony is another's data.

That may change. A year ago, the world shivered in unexpected blizzards the scientists warned were like a defrosting freezer as the cold air of the warming arctic rushed south. Just wait until next year, the caution came, when enough of the ice is gone and we really start to heat up.
NPR tackled this recently on an episode of Fresh Air entitled: "Sunny Days are Here Again -- But is that Good?" where they posit that the early spring is more than just warm weather:
"When we look at where the extremes have occurred in the U.S. over the last year, we see them essentially everywhere: droughts in the West, floods in the Northeast [and] tornadoes in the middle... It really is the case that there is no place on the map that is immune to climate change and disasters."

Will those who deny climate change peer out of their windows at the pleasant sunny days they know don't make sense for the time of year and admit to themselves that the visceral unease they can't quite shake means something? Will those less fortunate that hadn't believed stare at the rubble of their homes, their crops, their forests, their livestock and make the connection?
We've tossed the climate dice and the odds are against us. We can all do everything we should about the air, the water and our footprint. I recently changed everything to LEDs and solar attic fans and benefited with significantly lower electric bills. Good for me and the planet.
It won't change the course we're on for more generations than we'll be around to see. The new climate reality is that we've blown it. Climate change has arrived. The damage is done and is about to grow exponentially as the methane trapped in the melting tundra is released.
While we must do everything we can to mitigate the risk for the future there's another duty that befalls us all -- to help those impacted, to speak the truth, to change the paradigm of the coarsened society back to the values of our parents and grandparents when courage, compassion and empathy were worthy values.
It's worth it for us to do this, not only for the conscience of our immortal souls, but for our safety as climate change has been declared a risk to national security. Wars have been fought over resources more than ideology and resources are the scarce commodity in this changing reality.
We pulled together during World War II to win a battle against true evil. We've been at war for over a decade now with little sense of sacrifice on the part of the American people, while our soldiers, sailors and airmen fight in regions where oil is the prize with a price of climate.
The next decades will bring evidence even for the most passionate of disbelievers. Whether they'll raise their heads out of their self-inflicted sand to reach out to those who've been harmed more than they have is yet to be seen. It will be necessary that they do so as it will take a very long time to repair what we've done to our ourselves.