While the Weather's Weird, Talk About Climate Change

No one wants to talk about climate change lately. But this might be the perfect opportunity.

President Obama isn’t talking about climate change. Although his campaign used the occasion to ask environmentalists to join up, the president signed an official Earth Day proclamation this year that omitted any mention of it. His campaign website neglects to mention the issue, either. (Update: Obama did mention the existence of climate change in an interview with Rolling Stone published Wednesday.) Dan Farber, a law professor at University of California-Berkeley, set out to compare the president’s proposed environment and energy policies to Mitt Romney’s. And while the president has ideas to share about alternative energy, Keystone XL, environmental policy, fossil fuels, and public lands, Farber found nary a mention of climate change or policies that might address it.

The president isn’t the only one who’s skittish about discussing climate change right now. This weekend, the last episode of Frozen Planet aired. A collaboration between the Discovery Channel and the BBC, the series featured crisp, panoramic shots of fantastic landscapes and curious animals. The last episode, “On Thin Ice,” was about climate change: It showed the peril that polar animals face. But the show did not include an explanation for why, exactly, the ice was melting beneath their feet. This omission wasn’t accidental. To delve into climate science, the series’ producer told The New York Times, “would have undermined the strength of an objective documentary” and scared away prospective viewers.

This is how talking about climate change is perceived—as an action so toxic it could hurt a sitting president’s chances of reelection or prevent potential viewers from soaking in footage of adorable penguins and polar bears. But right now might actually be one of the best times to talk to Americans about climate change, its impacts, and strategies to fight back.

People, it turns out, are not rational about their views on climate. Not at all. Their views change with the weather—literally. A recent survey by the Yale Project on Climate Communications found that Americans are linking the weird weather they’ve experienced this year to climate change, even as scientists caution that making that connection will require more research. One researcher who studies public opinion on climate change has found that while climate-denying campaigns have little influence on opinions about climate change, a bout of weird weather can make a skeptic more likely to believe. People are even more likely to say climate change is a problem if they’re seated in a warm room.

This winter broke high-temperature records across the country. It’s almost May, and this weekend a storm dumped sleet and snow and general nastiness across New York and Pennsylvania. All this weird weather is likely making Americans more receptive than usual to conversations about climate change. It’s too bad that fewer leaders than ever are willing to speak up and press for real action on this issue. If next winter gets chilly enough, this window of opportunity may close.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Dr DAD


October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less

Since normalizing relations with Communist China back in 1979, the U.S. government and its companies that do business with the country have, for the most part, turned a blind-eye to its numerous human rights abuses.

In China's Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang, it's believed that over a million members of its Uighur population are being arbitrarily imprisoned and tortured in concentration camps. Female Uighurs in detention are being given forced abortions and subjected to sexual mistreatment.

Keep Reading Show less

The vaping epidemic is like a PSA come to life. A recent outbreak of vaping-related deaths and illnesses has affected people from across 46 states. More than 800 people fell ill, and at least 17 people died from vaping. In Illinois and Wisconsin, 87% of the people who got sick said they used THC, and 71% of people also said they used products that contained nicotine. Symptoms of the illness included coughing, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, and fatigue. We finally might now why.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic believe toxic chemical fumes, not the actual chemicals in the vape liquid, might be the culprit. "It seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents," Dr. Brandon Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said in release.

Keep Reading Show less