I’m heartsick over the fate of the West — not just what’s happening now, but what’s likely to happen in the coming years and decades.
A couple of days ago, a friend sent me a picture of the town where I used to live. People are standing on one side of the river, watching huge plumes of smoke over the other side of town. (It’s worth noting that the side that’s burning is, generally speaking, home to more lower-income and Native people. This is the big story of climate change demonstrated in the experience of one small town.)
Yesterday, the New York Times and ProPublica released a large, detailed survey of how climate change is already affecting the United States and what kind of changes we might expect over the coming decades.
In short words, we should expect to be living in a vastly different country within five presidential terms. And if that sounds abstract or far away, consider how much things have changed since the year 2000.
People are really, really bad at accurately assessing long-term risks and effects. We eat the potato chip. We fail to prepare for the pandemic. We assume all mortgages only go up in value.
Sadly, it’s clear that exponential change is upon us. Of course the details will be vigorously debated and the history will differ from the forecasts, but it’s (past) time to acknowledge that leaders’ biggest job going forward will be to assess, communicate, and mitigate the risks of
global warming atmosphere cancer — and respond to the inevitable effects.
Look at those maps. Look at some photos. Look at your house [the investment that only goes up; home].