Recently I had the pleasure of meeting environmental philanthropist and advocate Tom Steyer. What he shared rings so true that it bears repeating – or rather, shouting from the rooftops. While he acknowledged a scientific controversy on climate change, it wasn’t the one that typically comes to mind (thanks to the deny, delay, and disinformation campaigns waged by the fossil fuel industry), that climate change is a hoax dreamed up by gold-digging, grant-hustling professors. The controversy he was referring to is the understandable reticence of many climate scientists to fully “tell it like it is” to the general public. (Yes, I agree it’s mind-blowingly scary and depressing.) But for decades, the disturbing changes in our atmosphere, oceans, terrestrial areas, weather patterns, and sea ice, have regularly eclipsed our experts cautionary statements which are often framed in the context of a relatively distant future. The consequences of humankind’s deleterious activities regularly exceed near-term scientific estimates. Granted, due to our unprecedented use of fossil fuels, we find ourselves in somewhat uncharted waters and scientists’ warnings may be tempered in part, by their venerable institutions, their peers and an academic predilection to caution (a laudable goal). The insidious pressure researchers face from vested interests in the status quo must be acknowledged as well.
However, in order to wake us from our stupor and motivate us to move more rapidly to cleaner forms of energy, better land use practices, and a reverence for our life-giving oceans, I believe it’s time for humanity to hear the unvarnished truth, however alarming that is, again and again.
May I express my unending gratitude to the great minds of our time for their courage, dedication, and insight. Let’s implore our media to have the integrity and courage to partner more fully with these experts to deliver those messages. We have the technology and know-how to vastly improve our otherwise less sustainable future, create jobs, improve our economy and national security, lessen conflict, lessen suffering, and save lives. What we need is a “Come to Jesus, or Muhammad, or Abraham or Buddha… or simply ‘our senses’ moment”.