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Gone Mad

I’m just minding my own business, and suddenly all these eco-leaders are up in my face telling me to get angry about Global Warming? Bill McKibben -- who never raises his voice -- says I should stop being cynical and start being angry about Global Warming. The ever-methodical League of Conservation Voters emails me to “get angry, and fight this one out!” Even climate scientists, always so calm as they gaze into the abyss, are telling us to get angry. I always figured: if the climate scientists aren’t freakin about Global Warming, then I needn’t be freakin. And, now they’re freakin.

But how is getting angry supposed to help things? After all, I’ve fumed for years about my neighbor’s barking dog and it’s still, arf, arf, arf -- all night long. Oh, I get it. Maybe those tricky green leaders are using “angry” as a code word for “political.” They want me to get politically active against Global Warming. I’d kinda thought my years of recycling, Green consuming, and joining eco-groups were puny gestures, given the scope of Global Warming. But why get mad now?

Because as of 2011, we humans have an unforgiving carbon budget and a hard deadline if we want to avoid the worst. Last year, respected climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows found that commonly used climate predictions are dangerously optimistic. Despite the best intentions of the IPCC or the Kyoto/Cancun/Copenhagen/Durban charades, even if we meet those goals, we’ll fry. (Technical note: the highly scientific term, “fry” translates into “climate breakdown and societal collapse.”) Nope, I don’t want to believe that either, but you can’t dismiss it before reading and understanding these articles: (1,2). If there’s any hope of avoiding catastrophe, Anderson and Bows found, Western countries must stop increasing carbon pollution by 2015, then decrease carbon pollution by 10% per year until 2050. That’s a staggering change in our society and economy, and there’s no compromise. We have to do it. This goes beyond eco-festivals or house-by-house insulation schemes -- the whole society has to contribute, not just a green minority. So how is anger supposed to help this?

The good news is that events in 2011 took away our last excuses. Occupy Wall Street proved that American democracy still functions. So we can’t blame the corporations if they’re more politically active than we are. Also, 2011 showed us that climate deniers’ “critiques” evaporate when confronted with real science, so now we can rightly ignore those oil-funded charlatans and anyone who still believes them. Lastly, it remains obvious that the US government is the most potent force on the planet. That means that Americans will determine whether we survive Global Warming or not.

So, no more excuses. Wait! That gloomy news about the carbon budget and the deadline sent this last excuse skittering across my brain: “It’s too late and there’s no use trying.” Hmm... Now, what would an angry person do if he had that thought? He would shove that thought down where it belongs, then work harder to protect his children.