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we started out with global warming...
let's make it about us
by katherine l (aka clevertitania) (@CleverTitania)
4.9.10
news

Remember the old days, when it was about how aerosol cans were going to make it hotter and making fun of Al Gore? It seemed we finally had the terminology to help people understand why they should be ecologically responsible. But then people became confused, because it was still cold in the winter. In fact, some winters it actually felt colder.

Hey, hang on a second, sounds like Global Warming might just be a conspiracy to... well I don’t know but I’m sure there’s something sinister going on.

So we realized the name was bunk and it was time to move on.

Now we’re looking at Climate Change. But now we’re in a new pickle, because even people who believe we need to be paying more attention to our effect on the planet have a hard time arguing with the points of the opposition. The problem is, we do have reason to believe that part of the changes we’re seeing in our climate are the course of natural events on this planet’s timeline. We also have reason to believe that the changes are being accelerated by our actions, but there’s really no good indicator of just how much of it is our effect. In all, it seems that few people will deny Climate Change is happening now, they just question whether altering our behavior would have a demonstrable effect. And while it’s not great logic to say that not knowing our effect means we’re safe doing nothing, it’s actually difficult logic to argue against without a little more evidence on how much of the planet’s changes are just part of its own cycles of life.

So, now we have a term that confuses everyone, even people who understand action is probably a good idea. It’s also a buzz term that’s just not doing enough for saving the planet, because it is still focusing on the planet as the thing that needs saving. I think it’s time we rethink our whole strategy.

How about we take a tack from the National Weather Service, and go for a color coded scale.

Human Toxicity Levels

HTL Scale

As you can see, from the scale above, instead of focusing on what we’re doing to the planet - which few people can seem to actually quantify- we’re focusing on how likely it is that our effect on the environment is killing us. In fact, I think it’s time for a new cable network; the Human Toxicity Channel. Twenty four hour broadcasting about national and global toxicity levels, as well as Local on the 8’s.

HTC levels approach a record 7 for the month of April, in downtown Los Angeles, as Smog Season starts early this year. And in the south, if you’re going to be out and about in Houston this weekend, better bring an umbrella as a bright sunny day looks to bring HTC levels up to 8.5 in some areas.

And incidentally, I didn’t make up Smog Season. It’s a real thing, and starts May 1st.

So now, when you go to plan your weekend getaway, you can check if it’s going to rain and if that rain will be acidic enough to put you at higher risk for skin cancer. Now sure, this has some downsides. Certain areas of the country, and even the world, are probably going to see one serious drop in their tourism. They might even see more people moving out of their area. Of course, that means less traffic, which means it’ll probably improve air quality just by making people spread out a bit.

But that’s just the initial effect. The long term affects are the really important part of the plan. Those areas that will see tourism drop; most of them actually depend on their tourism to some degree. So now they have a fiscal obligation to improve the environmental impact of human beings on their area, because if they don’t there won’t be as many humans coming to their area.

Instead of focusing on how we’re going to save the planet, maybe it’s time we worked at getting everyone on board with saving our own asses. What have we learned from every disaster movie from the past 20 years? People will come together against something when it’s threatening to kill a lot of us. So, maybe looking at a map similar to this...

HTL Map

... every single day will make some people sit up and take a little notice. Maybe we’ll finally get on board with the business of making the air, water and soil cleaner, which in turn helps out the planet too. I call it a win/win scenario.


ABOUT KATHERINE L (AKA CLEVERTITANIA)

When I grow up, I want to be; whoever Joss Whedon wants to be, when he grows up. I am a writer because it's the first thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning; aside from eating and using the lavatory of course. My work includes screenplays, short stories, film/TV/music reviews and socio-political commentary. The last one is a fancy way of saying I like to shoot my mouth off on many topics. I excel at using $1.50 words. They gone up, thanks to inflation. Isn't our economy awesome?

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COMMENTS

william carr
4.9.10 @ 8:18a

Since we already live day to day in Code Yellow and, sometimes, Orange for security threats, I don't believe that color codes for climatological threats will obtain any long-term response. 9/11, Katrina--none has produced anything more than brief, intense response. Change in corporate behavior will come only from change in individual behavior--as Wendell Berry has put it, a lot of people, one at a time, doing the right thing--and lasting change in individual behavior must begin in the mind and, even more, in the heart.
Bill Carr

katherine (aka clevertitania)
4.9.10 @ 8:39a

While your point is valid, long term solutions often require short term compromises. While my color code system was mostly meant to be facetious; we do live in a time where, unless you can tell someone how it affects them, people are resistant to change and self-sacrifice. My point was simply that, if we stop focusing our buzz terms and talking points on the planet's needs and focus on human survival, we might get more done with less resistance.



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