The Climate-Change “Mad Lib,” V. 1

If you’re even paying attention a little bit, it’s pretty clear that Mother Earth is in a very bad state. She’s got a horrible fever, and she’s developing oozing sores all over the place, and….oh, hell. You know this as well as I do. Better, if you’re one of the dedicated ecodiarists who actually go to the trouble of learning about our planet’s crises in enough detail to write terrifying diaries that scare the crap out of me.

Not only is 2010 the hottest year on record, it’s also reaching new heights in denialist stupidity.

For example, every day our news outlets print articles or run pieces on one or another of the terrible catastrophes that are taking place. The disaster du jour is of course happening in Russia, where drought and wildfires are making people’s lives awfully close to pure hell. And the New York Times ran a front-page article about it…without mentioning the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” once.

As I said, denialist stupidity.

And as Bill McKibben said recently, it’s time to turn up the heat on the national conversation a bit. Our media aren’t going to mention global warming voluntarily unless it’s to mock the concept; we are going to have to force the issue.

Pursuant to which, I wish to make a small contribution to the forcing process.

I am no longer a newspaper reader, but I check papers around the country every day to find material for my letters. Yesterday was the Times, and I wrote them this letter:

As Russia’s food infrastructure crumbles under the pressure of a terrible drought, it’s tempting to think of it as a problem for “them,” not for “us.” But America isn’t immune to the devastating effects of global climate change. Russia’s crisis is part and parcel of the same complex set of phenomena that gave us Manhattan’s recent heat wave — and the freak snowstorms that brought Washington, DC to a standstill last winter. If we as a nation are to undertake meaningful action on behalf of the planetary systems that sustain us, the Jeffersonian ideal of a “well-informed citizenry” is more essential than ever: the fact that the phrase “climate change” does not appear at all in an article about the Russian drought is an unfortunate abdication of journalistic responsibility.

WarrenS

Now as some of you know, I am anxious for people to steal my work and make it their own. The more of us write letters to media on this issue, the more impact we’ll have.

But we are creatures of convenience. If it’s not convenient, it’s harder for us to do it.

For your epistolary convenience, I am pleased to present the first “Outrage-Lib” Climate-Change Letter To The Editor (“Mad Lib” doesn’t do justice to the level of emotion I experience).

This is designed to be used in response to articles or broadcast pieces about weather weirdness that do not mention climate change or global warming. Use it in good health! Use it in sickness. But use it!

————————————————————————————————————

“As we see the terrible effects of the _________________________________

(recent storm)
(recent heat wave)
(recent drought)
(freak snowfall)
(rain of frogs)
(plague of locusts)

in ___________________________________

(our town,)
(our state,)
(some other state,)
(some other country,)
(Washington, DC,)

it is easy and tempting to think of it as an isolated phenomenon that’s happening to someone else.

But the ____________________________________

(recent storm)
(recent heat wave)
(recent drought)
(freak snowfall)
(rain of frogs)
(plague of locusts)

in __________________________________

(our town)
(our state)
(some other state)
(some other country)
(Washington, DC)

is part and parcel of the same complex set of phenomena that gave us ___________________________

(other weird weather people may have noticed)

That is to say, ____________

(global warming.)
(climate change.)
(anthropogenic global warming.)
(the climate crisis.)

If we as a nation are to __________________________

(survive,)
(undertake meaningful action on behalf of the planetary systems that sustain us,)
(build a future for our children and their children in turn,)
(live long and prosper,)
(avoid species extinction, which the biologist Frank Fenner thinks is all but inevitable at this point,)

we must ____________________________

(face the facts.)
(use our mentality, wake up to reality.)
(know what’s going on.)
(restore the Jeffersonian ideal of a “well-informed citizenry.”)
(abandon the damaging reliance on false equivalence in our journalism.)

The fact that the phrase “climate change” does not appear at all in this article is ___________________________________

(an unfortunate abdication of journalistic responsibility.)
(an indication of moral bankruptcy on the part of your hopelessly corrupt publisher.)
(a demonstration of how poorly our news media handle the most important threat humanity has ever faced.)
(a fucking outrage!)

So there!
Yours Sincerely,

(You)”

————————————————————————————————————

If you fill in the blanks it’ll still come out under 150 words.

Of course they won’t print it. That’s not the point. The point is that they need to be called out on their irresponsibility, and the more feedback they get calling them out, the harder it will be for them to do it again.

We may be doomed but I’m damned if I’m going to go silently.

You?

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