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Sonoma County Gazette
Earth from Apollo 17

Yes, Climate Change IS real,
but how scared should we be?

Aug 1, 2017
by Tish Levee


As a climate journalist, I’m always trying to find that “sweet-spot” between giving my readers the information needed to wake them up and take action, and scaring them so much they feel there’s no hope – that they might just as well give up and not make any changes, because they think it won’t make any difference.

I was keenly aware of this conundrum recently while reading Michael Wells-Wallace’s article in New York Magazine, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” plus the comments it generated. Wallace-Wells painted a “doomsday scenario,” which frankly is pretty scary. In many cases, though, he showed that previous estimates of the risks of climate change are too low. While several commentators felt he didn’t go far enough, others felt that this type of writing can be just as dangerous as climate denial. (Wikipedia has links to the article and all the commentary.)

It is REAL, and it is getting worse. If we do nothing about climate change, we’re going to have serious problems – some of which may be irreversible – not in the distant future, but in our own lifetimes and in our children’s.

But, at the same time, if we lose hope and just give up, we definitely will experience those climate disasters. Studies have shown that, while worry and concern can motivate us to take action, fear simply paralyzes us and helps to foster climate denial.

It’s not going to be easy, and we’re going to have to make some real changes in our lifestyles in this country, but we can do this.

How do we get where we need to be? Technological breakthroughs in alternative energy and carbon sequestration – some of which are pretty far-out – are often called for. But we already have the knowledge we need to avoid the worst problems. We have proven technology that works: solar power, wind power, no-till agriculture to sequester carbon in the soil, electric vehicles, and ways to move much more quickly than previously to a total fossil fuel-free economy. What we need now is the will to make it happen.

Is it unrealistic to think we can make the necessary changes? No, we’ve already done something that seemed just as unrealistic. In four years, we totally transformed the US economy and our individual lifestyles in order to win a warWorld War II. Now we need the committed mobilization we had from 1941-45: one that transformed the auto industry to making planes and tanks, that changed our buying and eating habits, and that drastically limited our travel and our use of fossil fuels. We did all this then; we can do it again. The threat is just as greator even greatertoday. We need a WWII-scale national economic mobilization to fight climate change. If our parents and grandparents could do it, so can we!

Ten years after An Inconvenient Truth. It seems discouraging to realize how many of Al Gore’s predictions in that movie have come to pass. At first its follow-up, An Inconvenient Sequelin theaters nowseems to affirm Wallace-Wells’ pessimism, but it actually shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. See it now at Santa Rosa’s Summerfield Cinemas & Sebastopol’s Rialto Theater on August 3rd, with the film continuing at the Rialto through the 5th.

Please join us! We hope to see you this Friday or Saturday night, August 11th or 12th at 7pm for a showing of "An Inconvenient Sequel" at Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol. We will have a table before and after the show with information on how you can take climate action. 

How we talk about climate change matters. Currently, a hot topic with climate change writers, how we talk about this issue is critical.To learn more about how you can talk about climate change, sign up for a Climate Training in August at CCP, at

Electric vehicles (EVs) can make a differenceLearn more about EVs and even maybe test-drive one during the 7th National Drive Electric Week on Sept. 9th, from 11-4 PM, in Courthouse Square. Register at DriveElectricDay_SantaRosa for a chance to win $250.

Vacation at Home—beat the heat at the Sonoma County Coast without a car! Get cool, save money, forget parking worries, and lower your carbon footprint, all by taking Route 29 on weekends until Sept. 3rd. Find out more at

© Copyright Tish Levee, 2017

For the Planet by Tish Levee


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