Thursday, September 6, 2007

Why the grassroots matter

You Should Know
It's well worth your while to have some idea of what may be in store for you and your hometown in a climate changing future. Finding, gathering and acting on that knowledge before the impacts of global warming arrive at your door may save your home, your town, your life.

Your Governments are Failing You
Your federal government is not helping you accumulate that knowledge. In fact, the current Administration has actively stifled the distribution of scientific findings on global warming. State governments are not much better at educating us, preparing us, protecting us and keeping us informed about this critical situation. [I'd like to hear from you about any exceptions to that.] And as we all know, the Feds seem to have their hands full with a war.

This is Not Necessarily Long Range Planning
I hate to write this, but if current trends continue a lot of people are going to end up leaving the homes they live in today, for reasons of climate change. It may be the threat of destruction or the destruction itself, but just as flooding and drought are forcing people to reassess their situations this summer in England and Australia and the American Midwest, many more people will have to do so in the not-so-distant future.

I realize that such a statement is going to set off an emotional reaction in those of you currently invested in your homes, neighborhoods and regions. I don't blame you; it's an outrageous scenario. But if you live where a 2-foot rise in sea level will put your front yard under water at high tide; or if you live in a desert only made habitable by importing water from a long distance, then you should really know and understand the scientific assessments of your risks.

Of course, that's oversimplifying things. If you live anywhere in a region where those conditions are present, you'll be affected to a greater or lesser degree by the disruptions.

The Climate, It Are A-Changin'
We're no longer living in a benign climatic condition, where extreme weather visited us rarely enough that we didn't have to worry. We're currently seeing records broken for heat, rainfall, drought and storm intensity all over the planet. We're losing the overall stability that characterized weather for as long as we've been keeping records. You can no longer take for granted that the weather patterns you've lived with in your location for 50 years will be your weather patterns for the future.

The Grassroots Matter
For democracy to work, the citizens need to be involved. It's the informed citizenry that does the best job of choosing its representatives. Sometimes it takes an especially strong motivation to get citizens to that level of involvement.

I believe we last saw that when America entered World War II. Global warming has the potential to be much more destructive than the Axis Powers. We, the people, need to mobilize not only to change our energy habits, but to prepare for the global warming effects that are already heading down the tracks toward us.

If we inform ourselves about the risks we face, we make ourselves less dependent on dysfunctional government. We also get to understand just how dysfunctional our representative bodies have become, and how important it is that we choose representatives with brains, courage and integrity.

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