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An interesting post from Peter Madden over at Gristmill has been making the rounds here via interoffice e-mail. It suggests that we might be paying too much attention to the issue of global warming. That there’s a danger we’re putting all the environmental concern we have to spare in that one proverbial basket at the expense of other issues like biodiversity, toxics, etc.
It’s a good question. Does the massive attention now (at last) being paid to the climate crisis negatively affect other environmentally issues by diverting too much money and will or by simply being such an overwhelming issue so remote from daily life that it just makes our eyes glaze and our brains tune out to environmental issues in general?
Madden calls the climate crisis an abstraction of the kind that tends not to stir the imagination and engender public support in the same way that, say, saving cute cuddly megafauna does. Because its effects are decades away and/or can’t be felt in some way on a personal level, he says environmentalists and policymakers may be making a political mistake by focusing on it to the frequent if not constant exclusion of all else.
For my part, I don’t think so. Because if we don’t fix this climate thing and soon none of the other stuff is going to matter. The planet’s gonna be toast. And so is everything on it. It won’t matter how much bisphenol-A you’ve got in your veins if the ambient temperature outside is 135 degrees and it hasn’t rained for a year. Efforts to save the rare spotted squark won’t amount to a pile of poo if its habitat bursts into flame. And if Madden thinks that the climate crisis is some distant dilemma that has no relevance to daily life he should ask people in the Midwest or Texas or Greece or the Arctic or anywhere else what they think. Never mind that scientists think it’s about to really hit the gas (so to speak). It’s here. Now. Everywhere. The zero hour has arrived.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be paying attention to other eco-issues. But we’re in such a pickle at present that triage is definitely in order. So if you accept the proposition (and I don’t) that there’s only a limited amount of patience and will and money that everyone is willing to devote to environmental issues, then that’s where we need to put it. Everything else is just window dressing on window that won’t be there much longer if we don’t.