Grief over global warming

I left my car in the shop for a tune-up over the weekend, so Esteban gave me a ride this morning. It wasn’t quite 8 a.m. yet, but already the air felt unseasonably warm.

“I can’t understand people who don’t believe in global warming,” he said as he rolled down his window. To Esteban, every weather anomaly serves as proof of a looming catastrophe.

I agree with him in theory, of course. After reading Field Notes from a Catastrophe, I have not a shred of doubt that the planet’s climate is changing.

I wondered aloud why — in spite of the mounting evidence — so many people still find it hard to accept. Esteban postulated that maybe it’s because an acceptance of climate change can only come after individuals move through the five stages of grief.

Esteban thought that a good majority of the population was still stuck in denial. I stretched the metaphor a bit further by commenting that carbon credits are really a form of bargaining. And we’ve certainly seen plenty of anger about this topic.

Intrigued by Esteban’s notion, I looked online to see whether anyone else has come to the same conclusion. It didn’t take me long to find a scholarly essay on the topic.

I guess I can understand the impulse to pretend that all is well. It’s just too painful to contemplate that this beautiful planet we call home may be changing irrevocably — or even dying. It’s also heartbreaking to realize that our politically driven squabbling about whether climate change is happening (and why) won’t mean squat when it’s said and done.

Sadly, this is a problem we’ll only understand in hindsight. And by then it will be too late.

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