Last week, as President Obama was sworn into his second term, he spoke to the nation and the world. His inaugural address was laden with concern: quite specifically, the president is preoccupied with global warming. He may have been alerted to our overcrowded, polluted, and baking world, from Al Gore’s 2006
horror film documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Perhaps he has known of the global warming crisis since it was reported by scientists in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the related natural disaster events of 2012 (e.g., Hurricane Sandy, dried-up Midwest corn fields, raging Colorado wildfires, etc.) assuredly fueled his eminent concern.
Within this first month of 2013, NASA satellites over Australia have already detected the hottest temperatures on record. And a recent report from World Bank warns of the drastic outcomes from a four-degree (Celsius) increase in worldwide temperatures –an increase that is projected by 2060, unless carbon emissions are radically reduced:
The 4°C scenarios are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.
Current and future global warming scenarios seem to be glorified and compounded by diverse and abundant reporting agencies. Which agencies are right? Which agencies offer the most up-to-date, helpful information? I, for one, feel besieged by global warming information overload. But I agree with Obama, that the time to act is NOW; failing to confront global warming immediately and aggressively would be a “betrayal of future generations.”
We are in the throws of the global warming response stage and, thus, our information needs are changed: we need overarching global warming solutions rather than hyped disaster stories. Agencies must emphasize reactive and proactive steps: encourage people to calculate their carbon footprints, and then teach them ways to reduce those footprints; encourage them to sign the Climate Reality Pledge and to otherwise get involved with private, state, and government efforts. I ask that the news and media stop overloading. Recognize changing information needs. Stop scaring and start caring!