Last weekend’s local March for Science was a great success (check our Facebook page for photos and media coverage) and also great fun for all of us in PAN who attended. It did get me thinking, though, about where climate change research ranks in the list of priorities for scientists, progressives and the general public. There was a lot of talk at the rally about funding cuts in basic science, biomedical research and health care – all of which are unquestionably very important. I saw scattered signs about climate change, but it was one of many causes under the general rubric of science under siege.
In this first year of the Trump administration, there are so many houses on fire it’s hard to know where to throw water. I’m going to try to make the case that climate change should be among the top concerns of progressives – and not only progressives. Climate change is real, it’s accelerating, and it poses an imminent threat to Americans’ health, our food supply, our economy, the viability of our coastal cities and military bases, transportation, power grid, and so on. Cutting agencies that research and monitor climate change, as the present administration proposes, won’t make it go away; but it will reduce our preparedness for the effects of rising global temperatures on fundamental aspects of American life.
It’s often noted that the scientists who study climate change don’t do a very good job communicating their findings to the public. Media coverage is scattered, focusing on newsworthy tidbits of climate science, rather than the big picture. For example, see this story the Dispatch picked up from the AP suggesting that global warming will get people outdoors more – with a picture of happy beach-goers. How can that be bad?
I’m going to start a series of posts here looking at the science of climate change, and trying to make it a bit more accessible to general readers. I hope to have some help from climate scientists here at Ohio State University. Eventually, my aim is to prepare a report and position paper for Physician’s Action Network on the health and social effects of climate change. The report can then serve as the basis for local education and advocacy.
In the end, I hope to offer a convincing rationale for conservatives as well as progressives that we can’t bury our heads in the sand when it comes to climate change. We need to take major steps to reduce carbon emissions so as to slow planetary warming; and we need to be prepared for the consequences of the warming that is already underway.