What I am worried about Wednesday: Climate Change

Happy Wednesday Wanderers! I am doing something different than my usual wordelss-wednesday posts today. I haven’t blogged since my (slightly spastic) race-recap post directly after the Tacoma City Marathon. This week has been all about rest and recovery, no selfies in running gear for THIS plucky PhD candidate this morning.

You’ll have to make do with a Yoga-selfie. Garuda-selfie-asana

I’m trying to take it easy on my body and my brain. I’m also trying to do some personal reflection and take stock of what my goals are as an athlete and a human for the coming months. As spastic as my race-recap post was, I am very glad that I took the opportunity to tap out my thoughts while they were still fresh in my mind. Now that the race is over it’s time to relax, recuperate, and re-evaluate.  I’ve been preparing myself mentally and physically for the past few months. Now the big day has come and gone, what the hell am I supposed to do with myself?

I love you wee-eater
Yardwork!
this is a great place!
…and lots of Yoga

Most expert coaches writing articles about marathon recovery emphasize the importance of both physical and psychological healing after the race is over. It is common and human to feel slightly let down or depressed after completing a big event–even if the event is a tremendous success! Humans are complex creatures capable of feeling both overjoyed and ambivalent. I had similar feelings of malaise and ennui after my PhD qualifying exams this past January. Mentally I feel ready to run again, but I am looking forward to a less structured training cycle in the coming months.

my crazy calendar
Pictured: my actual iCal…I run lots and I do lots of experiments

Physically, my quads feel a little sore and I certainly was taking it easy on the hamstring stretches during yoga this morning. A full Natarajasana was just not on the menu this morning, and that’s OK.

Maybe it's because I didn't have my favorite yoga teacher with me!
If Louis had been teaching I bet I would have been more flexible!

I have been dealing with some unfortunate blister issues. The weather was perfect for running, but there were a few residual puddles along the route. Running in slightly soggy shoes is a one-way ticket to blister city. Warning: the next photo is an artistic black and white portrait of some GNARLY runner toes.

I’m sorry

I’ve gone with the duct-tape and epsom-salt-soaks approach, and those beauties are shrinking up nicely. I think I’ll take myself out for a test-run on friday to shake out the cobwebs and see how I feel. I’m sorry again for posting such a traumatic image. Here’s a photo of a baby carrot that looks kind of like a butt to cheer you up.

baby carrot butt

All joking aside, today’s post is about something far more alarming than my personal podiatry and far more serious than risqué root vegetables. The National Climate Assessment for the United States was released yesterday. The report’s overall conclusions state, in no uncertain terms, that human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, has led to a substantial increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide content. The increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is associated with, and likely responsible for, a significant rise in global temperatures. The rise in global temperatures is responsible for hotter overall temperatures, changes in precipitation, and a preponderance of extreme weather events throughout the United States, and worldwide.

Source: Kenneth Kunkel, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites – NC http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/report-findings/our-changing-climate#tab1-images

In other words. Climate change is here, it’s real, it’s caused by us, and we are already feeling its effects.

CS_Net_Change_in_Ann_Temp_12910_v11
Source: Kenneth Kunkel, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites – NC http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/report-findings/our-changing-climate#tab1-images

The report concluded that the recent flooding in Colorado, and the drought in Texas can be attributed to human-induced climate change. These “freak occurrences” cannot simply be explained away as fluctuations in the global weather cycle: they happened because of human action, and they will continue to happen with greater frequency and severity.

This worries me. However, I’ve worried about climate change before. Why am I returning to this topic when this report only confirms what we have been told before?

This report is commendable: it does not mince words. I highly recommend checking it out yourself; as official documents go it is highly visually pleasing, interactive, as well as informative. Scientists have an obligation to phrase things as accurately and carefully as humanly possible. It goes against scientific ethos to make big, splashy, absolutist statements.

422px-Limbaugh_Award_cropped
If only the Punditry had such qualms

I worry that this report may fall on deaf ears. I am worried because recent polling data shows that a majority of Americans do not consider climate change a primary object of concern. Participants from both sides of the political divide were asked to rank their anxiety about a variety of topics. The results showed that the majority of Americans (51%) do not worry about climate change. Democrats a sa group are more likely to worry about climate change and the quality of the environment than Republicans; Republicans are more likely to worry about the economy and the budget deficit. Interestingly, people from both parties worried equally about healthcare.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 2.38.32 PM

I notice that concern about the climate peaked around 2007, and has steadily fallen as the global financial crisis has played out. I understand how people can rationalize away concern over the climate when concern over the mortgage is closer at hand. In my mind none of these issues are separable. Droughts caused by climate change negatively impact the economy! Environmental catastrophes necessitate government spending on disaster relief! Most importantly, climate change can no longer be looked at as a problem for the future. We are feeling its effects AT PRESENT.

I am hopeful that this report, and the media attention it is garnering, might be the impetus for some action. Polling data also shows that the majority of Americans support controls on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Maybe if the public at large learns that climate change IS and SHOULD BE a cause of concern, the bottom-up pressure will lead to proactive legislation! A carbon tax could decrease emissions while generating revenue that could be directed towards further research into alternative energy. Alternatively,  the revenue could even go directly back to American Citizens in the form of a tax rebate, if growing the size of the government is a non-negotiable.

Climate change affects everybody, regardless of political polarization. A drought is no drier for a democrat. Likewise, climate change IS an economic issue: the economy happens to reside on the Earth. America has an opportunity to lead by example; we export our pop culture and influence across the globe.

Dear world: You are WELCOME. Kisses -USA
Dear World: You are WELCOME,
Dear World: Sorry about this one
Dear World: Sorry about this one

Hopefully this report can set an attitude adjustment in motion across America. It is scary that we are already seeing the effects of climate change. However, I know that if any country in the world can mobilize, motivate, and innovate to address a complex problem it’s the U.S.A. Americans are stubborn and optimistic; when we are driven to action we can accomplish some amazing things.

Buzz_salutes_the_U.S._Flag

We are capable of putting a man on the moon, we can certainly address the problems on our own planet.

 

What do you think, are we finally ready to take some action? Discuss. 

14 thoughts on “What I am worried about Wednesday: Climate Change

    1. What can a singular individual like myself do besides recycle /reuse compost,turn off energy sucking lights/appliances, vote for candidates who are climate change concerned vote for emissions taxes,donate to organizations that are working on all of the above &?&?&?&?!! And what, we buy our energy from the solar & wind pool of excel electric.I feel like there’s something else we could be doing?!

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      1. I think that doing all of those things is GREAT! It goes above and beyond what most other singular individuals do. It seems small, but a lot of small contributions can add up to one big change!
        I’d say the best additional step to take is being conspicuous in your conservation efforts. Make green the new normal!

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