Seems as if everybody's talking about anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change these days. A huge march on Washington is planned for February 17, and today, One Earth Productions announced that a major feature documentary called Greedy Lying Bastards will open nationally in 20 major cities on March 8.
The film's producer/director says he aims to "provide answers as to why as a nation we fail to implement clean energy policies and take effective action on important problems such as climate change.... This is particularly crucial following the warmest year on record in the United States, one in which the country experienced record drought, wildfires, and Hurricane Sandy."
Public opinion on climate change
You now hear about climate change on the bus, in the supermarket, through local politics. Many boardrooms and some media giants have even begun to address the subject. Most nations of the world openly acknowledge the global reality.
In December 2012, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that about four out of five Americans now think that temperatures are rising and that global warming may cause serious problems for the United States. Even within the most highly skeptical group (the 33% who discredit scientific consensus), a clear majority (61%) now acknowledge that temperatures have been rising over the past 100 years.
Who still says the United States should make no effort to reduce global warming? A longstanding nationwide poll by Yale University revealed in September 2012, before the presidential election, that only 2% of Democratic voters, 10% of Independents, and 28% of Republicans (heaviliy Tea Party) felt no need for American efforts to curtail climate change.
From the first Earth Day to the present
It used to be fashionable to disparage people who thought about the global environment as young, gawky, naive, undisciplined, inexperienced, unrealistic, offensive, overblown, arrogant, foolish, and disruptive. Oddly, Earth Day, which first raised the spectre of global warming in 1970, spawned many of these stereotypes. Then, hardly anyone but academics, college students, and a few farsighted scientists had any idea of what might be coming.
But from mainstream Americans--we who consume 25% of the world's total energy and who are closely targeted by climate denialists--one hears not nearly so much disbelief these days. And none too soon--the most extreme voices have begun to say "perhaps too late." Humanmade pollution reaches from deep-drilled holes, tainted aquifers, the ocean bottom, its centers, every remote shoreline, every seemingly protected natural preserve, up into the stratosphere, and to space itself.
The awareness gap between intellectuals and ordinary people has narrowed. Renewable energy is emerging as commonplace, even profitable, and achievable through both small-scale and utility-sized measures. And the weather continues to worsen. People have become more competent to detect untruths spread by highly profitable entities whose products poison earth, air, and water. Small businesses and investors have begun to recognize that many economic opportunities exist that work against climate change.
"Every ton of coal that is burned anywhere on the planet Earth ends up in Puget Sound," says Washington Governor Jay Inslee. "This is not only about the polar bears. It is about business opportunities... that are today being damaged."
State, municipal, and local governments have begun to take steps to prevent environmental degradation. Even huge multinational companies pay lip service to "clean energy" in primetime TV commercials--though their version of "clean" contradicts the intuitive link between burning fossil fuels and damaging the atmosphere.
We the People...
The only element missing is vocal consensus from ordinary Americans. Popular outcry works, as testified by movements like the 19th century's drive against killer industrial "pea-soup" fogs in Europe and the much cleaner air and water we have now in the U.S. than we did 45 years ago.
In mid-February's Washington march, expected to be the largest climate rally in history, Americans will have the opportunity to raise their voices again for constructive change. The film should follow up by widely disseminating some of the reasons for our apparent ignorance and by inspiring strong actions to correct the mistakes of the past.
Science writer Sandy Dechert covered issues raised at the recently concluded 18th UN climate change summit meeting and during the 2012 presidential election. Her other work has included investigations into solar, wind, biomass, large and small hydroelectric, geothermal, and conventional energy forms. Sandy has also reported for Examiner.com on extreme weather disasters over the past few years.
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