Amidst the news of figure skating champions, a new pope, a controversial rape trial, or the latest status of a royal pregnancy, to name a recent few, we are swamped these days with stories that engage our attention and feed a sense of intrigue, excitement, indignation, judgment or wanting. Newspapers, seeing the webpage hit counts go up on these top stories, feed us more and more of the same, regardless of whether these stories are actually the most significant news of the day.
So chances are, while you know Patrick Chan won another figure skating championship, you know what white smoke means at the Vatican and you know there was a guilty verdict in Steubenville, you might not know that climate scientists now expect the Arctic to have a climate similar to Wyoming’s by the end of this century.
Let that sink in. If a paper recently published in Nature Climate Change is correct, then not far out of most of our lifetimes, the Arctic climate will have shifted so drastically as to have milder winters than Saskatoon or Winnipeg sees today.
Canadian Press reports the climate in the Arctic has already shifted and is changing about twice as fast as the rest of the world.
Some may hear that southern species will migrate and grow further north, and that more resources will become readily available (such as natural gas) and think that this change cannot be all negative. Indeed, as we’ve discussed before, there are those who look on this change and think only of how to profit from it, without any real concern for the profound stress and imbalance being wreaked on Arctic ecosystems.
We find it deeply ironic that even as large segments of the population continue to believe in the fantasy that climate change is a lie, many of the politicians those people support know the change is real and look forward to exploiting the results.
Further, the non-response and limited coverage this story has gotten suggests that many of us who do accept climate change as real have resigned ourselves to its effects, no longer able or willing to be alarmed or activated by what is deeply alarming, and preferring to read fluff stories. “It’s not real” and “It’s real, but there’s nothing anyone can really do about it” are both expressions of resistance and constriction.
This is a time that calls for awakened action. Every time we change the channel from significant news to yet another story about white smoke or Kate’s belly, we’re choosing to stay asleep instead of playing our part. So call on your news media to report what’s important. Vote with your eyeballs and click on the stories that matter. And consider making this spring a time of renewed commitment to serving our interconnected web of life.