Glen, a commenter at climateprogress.org, wrote that climate change does not have the impact of a terrorist attack because it:
1. doesn’t have a human face
2. doesn’t violate our moral sensibilities
3. seems to be a threat to the unseen future but NOT to the present
4. human sensitivity to relative rather than absolute changes of the environment
And this was my response to it:
I think it does have at least three, which just may not be apparent to everyone - but soon will be. The human face of climate change, which already exists, is all those people who are enduring famine, resource wars, loss of their home, drought and extreme weather, and the millions and billions more who will. The injustice of leaving an uninhabitable planet to future generations - as well as the unfairness of the poorest on the globe, those with the lowest contribution to carbon emissions, suffering first and most - violate moral sensibilities. The present is most certainly already displaying negative impacts, from rivers going dry and glaciers melting, to trees dying, to wildfires and bigger more powerful hurricanes, and buckling tundra in the far north, not to mention, all the biodiversity under the threat (certainty?) of mass extinction.
I think this is a significant debate because I believe that blaming human nature, and proposing that it has evolved to not recognize distant threats, is a diversion from the fierce fury that should be felt by all towards the professional deniers out there, and those industries who bankroll their well-coordinated campaigns to confuse the public. I question whether it is so much indelible human nature leading the average person to ignore climate change and our role in it, and how much is due to deliberate and criminal lies. If it was innately ordained that people could not recognize and react with the necessary urgency, what of those scientists and lay people who DO recognize and feel the urgency? Are they genetic aberrations? Or are they just smart enough, or pragmatic enough, or well-educated enough, to see through the propaganda - or maybe, they live on a drowning island in the Pacific.
That's probably enough to focus the mind.
I should have added that the other factor in explaining why people refuse to recognize 1, 2 and 3, even though they are quite evident, is that certain implications inexorably follow, and these implications are uncomfortable, to say the least.
One is, that free markets will not and cannot solve this problem of the commons. This makes ideologically rigid Ayn Rand acolytes apoplectic. Another is, that we average Americans with huge carbon footprints are going to HAVE TO change our self-indulgent profligate ways. We cannot continue to squander and consume everything in sight. OUCH!!
Furthermore, there is an unfortunate tendency for people to climb on the prostrate rubble of the less fortunate, to blame them and vilify them and even exterminate them. So it's easier to shriek about immigrants and fetishize fears of terrorists than confront the real problems we create for ourselves. Like greenhouse gas emissions.
Oh, dear. I'm getting to sound more and more like the phantom Admin at survivalacres. He closed the blog in disgust at human recalcitrance, but you can subscribe to the newsletter at http://survivalacres.com/wordpress/ and conveniently buy a 10 year supply of freeze dried food for the coming apocalypse!
In response to a friend who is frustrated by denialism, I share this reply:
Ah! We are in the parallel universe, you and I.
How familiar your experience is, to me.
We sound the alarm and no one listens. I have had people just stare at me and then change the topic of conversation from mass extinction and an unlivable planet to french fries and baby formula.
People do not want to confront the unfathomable challenge we have created in the last 200 years of burning fossil fuels at a reckless rate, heedless of the consequences that were warned of from the very beginning! It was too much fun! Such salaciously instant gratification!
Americans spurned Jimmy Carter - accused of "malaise" (a word he never actually used, when warning us of our profligacy and squandering, but what has truthiness to do with it?) in favor of Reagan's message (Mourning in America) which was rampant growing and polluting and consuming, with delirious abandon, until the entire biosphere is depleted, and like Easter Island, is going to be fucking DEAD!
Thanks, Reagan Rethugs, and Paultards, and everybody who ever ignored science, and reality, and the fact that rearranging the deck chairs on the ONE Titanic we have, PLANET EARTH, isn't going to save anybody!