McKibben/Toles: Ignore the climate/disaster connection!

It's long been my contention that environmental writers, artists, and speakers have to access the full range of human emotion to make the case for the urgency of action needed to preserve our existing climate — even bitterness, if necessary. Science and earnest appeals to reason simply aren't enough. 

So it's good, in a rhetorical sense, to see our leading advocate for action, Bill McKibben, resort to sarcasm and even, yes, a little bitterness in a column in the Washington Post about climate and tornadoes, not to mention, floods, droughts, wildfires, the melting of the ice at the poles, and more. 

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected. 

If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest — resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi — could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air. 

Please read the whole thing. It gets even better, but I don't want to give away the punchline. 

From Toles, of course. 

One thought on “McKibben/Toles: Ignore the climate/disaster connection!

  1. The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored and we are a large part of why that has happened.


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