Heat domes. Polar vortexes. Superstorms. Megadroughts. Wildfire tornados. Rising sea levels.
These terms were unheard of at the start of this century — other than in academic journals — but are now part of our everyday conversation.
Climate change and its catastrophic effects no longer exist in the realm of science fiction describing a distant and dystopian future — they are part of the here-and-now in every corner of the globe.
Although it is true that our planet has been experiencing its hottest years in recorded history over the past decade, the term “global warming” does not really capture what is going on. Indeed, the phrase global warming almost has a warm and fuzzy connotation. After all, who likes to be cold?
But 14 years ago, the award-winning New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman used a different term to describe the effects of climate change. He called it “global weirding,” first coined by the environmentalist L. Hunter Lovins, which Friedman described this way:
“Avoid the term ‘global warming.’ I prefer the term ‘global weirding,’ because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes. The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier, and the most violent storms more numerous.”
Tom Friedman’s reference to the term global weirding came amidst a torrent of climate change denial by Republican politicians and fossil fuel industry executives, but has proven to be prescient in view of the climate calamities of the past few years.
Just about everything we do, individually and collectively, impacts our climate negatively.
As Congress takes up President Biden’s various infrastructure proposals, including many that address climate change, some may question the enormous expense of retrofitting our economy to lessen our impact on the planet.
However, putting the issue that way has it backwards. It’s not whether we can afford to address climate change, but rather, can we afford NOT to do so.