Climate Change: Feeling the Heat in Madison


Cooling Off by moyerphotos

courtesy of moyerphotos, Flickr Creative Commons

As we hit yet another record day of 100+ degree weather, I huddle in my living room hoping my little room air conditioner will hold out and keep the room at a tolerable 85. The grass has turned to straw, and neighbors are desperately trying to ration out water to their veggie gardens.

Climate change. Seems pretty obvious on a day like today. Madison experienced the mildest and driest winter in decades — one that got more folks talking about climate change seriously again, and now this, relentless heat and still no rain in sight.

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman wrote a great op-ed piece on climate change for the progressive journalists’ website Nation of Change recently where she sums up the toll the recent heatwave has taken across the country. She writes that more than 2,000 heat records were broken last week across the U.S. and quotes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the government agency that tracks the data, reported that the spring of 2012 “marked the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States.” These record temperatures in May, NOAA says, “have been so dramatically different that they establish a new ‘neighborhood’ apart from the historical year-to-date temperatures.”

Halting or reversing climate change seems a monumental task. Some scientists are already saying it may be too late. Yet, most of us feel we MUST do something. What are we to do?


courtesy of Monika Thorpe, Flickr Creative Commons

Living simply is a lifestyle choice but it is far from a solution. Odd thing to say on a “simple living” blog but it’s true. We can all do our part, and it makes us feel healthier and good to do “the right thing” but the real climate criminals are the big polluters, large global corporate entities whose waste and degradation of the earth’s resources — including human resources — knows no bounds. Capitalism, the drive for profit at all costs, is the real culprit here, and it’s about time we named it.

Chris Williams in his thoughtful book Ecology and Socialism writes:

A world economic system predicated on relentless growth, devouring increasing amounts of raw materials and energy and spewing out ever-larger amounts of toxic waste products, has produced a whole series of environmental threats…However, as it intersects with all other threats, and furthermore has a tendency to aggravate them, the most urgent and encompassing of these is global climate change.

Taking our fight to the real source of the problem is key. On the ground, this means getting out there in the street, demanding changes, keeping the spotlight on the real major polluters. It means rejecting the call for simple, individualized solutions that won’t scratch the surface and rejecting the calls from the top that people just have to “tighten their belts and live with less” as the only solution. The solution starts at the top, where the big decisions are made.

We must keep up the pressure ourselves and not get sucked into voting for politicians on either side of the aisle who make empty promises while taking huge corporate donations. Pretty easy money it is, too. All they have to do is keep the blame focused on our lifestyle choices and away from the choices the corporations make that put profits over the environment and that keep us tied to a fossil-fuel existence.

For more on this, including Williams’ book, check out Heather Rogers’ excellent Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy is Undermining the Environmental Revolution or the work of George Monbiot including Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. Goodman also points to Jeff Masters, the founder of Weather Underground, who keeps a close watch on climate change on his site and blog. His section on climate change contains a great arsenal of factual information to combat the climate change naysayers on the right.


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