In this week's Stranger, Jonathan Golob writes about this summer's alarming droughts and fires, the difficulty in getting people to act to prevent climate change, and why we should all freak out about this humanity-ending calamity in the same way we freaked out about the prospect of nuclear annihilation:
People, even in the 1950s, understood on some level what a nuclear bombing would mean—and their sense only became clearer through the aboveground nuclear tests. By the Cuban missile crisis, a plurality understood that nuclear war would mean the end of humanity as we knew it.
Climate change, unfortunately, is not like a nuclear bomb in this regard. Even though scientists are generally as convinced about the consequences of climate change as they were about the consequences of splitting atoms over a large city, there is no political or cultural consensus to do anything about the problem. It's easy to see why: Climate change is a far-in-the-future calamity on a scale none of us can really comprehend. At least the poor fools in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s had the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to make sure there were no delay-inducing illusions.
Let this summer be our Hiroshima, then. Not just because of the heat, not just because of the fires, but because the last few scientifically relevant skeptics acknowledged what most of us already know: Climate change is real, it's happening, and it could destroy us all.