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Global Vs. Local Perspective. The Difficulties In Helping People Understand Climate Change. — 5 Comments

  1. Father, the same thing happens to us in the Rio Grande Valley, so don’t disparage your folks in Wisconsin.

    The data does not lie; people do (aka, “The Administration”). Deniers cannot change the facts. Species of animals and plants that were only rarely seen north of Central Mexico are now relatively common in South Texas. They are following the tropics northward. Temperate climes are migrating north as well.

    Hey! I’m feeling fine, therefore I will never die. Really? That should start an interesting conversation with God. Did you take care of the planet he gave to all of us, rich and poor alike? If not, you are guilty of murder, contributing to the genocide of the entire human race.

    Here’s an experiment we run with graduate students in marine science…fill a small tank or bucket with water until it is running over. Place an aquarium heater in it. Heat the water one degree Centigrade above ambient and observe what happens. Take it to a larger scale–the tank is now the ocean, and the temperature is going to go up a degree. It is not the glaciers melting but the thermal expansion of the water that will drown the coast. 40% of the world’s population lives within 37 miles of that coast.

    If we don’t do something now, it will be increasingly difficult to reverse it.

    No lifeboat–it’s the only planet we have.

    Steven Lanoux, Ph.D.

  2. The Wisconsin extreme colds do not negate climate change. Think of our atmosphere as a heat engine analogous to a car engine. The difference between a hot(say burning gasoline) and cold(the radiator cooler) drive a car. The greater the hot-cold difference, the more available energy to do work(go 100 mph if you like). Analogously, the human derived energy pumped into the atmosphere creates a heat engine in reverse. There necessarily will be more energetic atmospheric events driven by colder colds and hotter hots reflected in dryer drys, wetter wets, windier winds, snowier snows and a high rate of change between any of these states. I am from CC, South Texas also, and changing weather extremes have been demonstrated in the last week. Also, there is a TV text crawl indicating there currently is snow in Maui and record snows in Seattle as we anticipate the Atlantic heating up and creating hurricane events beginning in June.

  3. The examples offered are very helpful. The power of story and metaphor also can be useful. Three I’ve used (as a meteorologist called to talk about climate change)…include ‘hey, it’s dark at night, how can I be sure the sun will return?’…or ‘I still have checks in my checkbook, how can I possibly be running out of money? Or ‘why should I keep summer clothes in my closet when it’s this cold this winter?’

    That raises the issue of not being ‘myopic’. The continental U.S. covers 2% of the globe. It’s hardly representative of the larger pattern. At the same time much of the U.S. was suffering through the deep freeze, Australia was hitting 120 degrees in places…and the ocean is continuing to warm…per the points made by one of the previous respondents. And research conducted by leading institutions (Woods Hole Research Institute for one), indicate that the surge of Arctic air is due to a splitting of the Polar Vortex, due to warming of the Arctic. You can also localize with examples from Climate Central (

    Finally, in terms of the inherent dignity of creation, St. Francis is highly admired-his theology, expanded by Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus…paired with the insights and research of contemporary scientists such as Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, Marc Bekoff, Irene Pepperberg and John Marzluff can be helpful and formative. Good luck!

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