The Washington Post Sunday
Climate change won’t affect me.
We often think the most widespread myth is that the science isn’t real. But according to public opinion polls by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, the most prevalent misconception — one that the majority of us have bought into — is that climate change just doesn’t matter to us. While 70 percent of American adults agree that climate change is happening, only 40 percent of those surveyed believe it will harm them personally. Sure, it’ll hurt polar bears, and maybe people who live on low-lying islands in the South Pacific. But the world has warmed by just 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, since 1900. What’s the big deal?
Climate change is a threat multiplier that touches everything, from our health to our economy to our coasts to our infrastructure. It makes heat waves stronger, heavy precipitation events more frequent and hurricanes more intense, and it nearly doubles the area burned by wildfires. It supercharges natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and the Camp Fire, as those suffering the effects of these events know firsthand. Climate change is no longer a distant issue in space or time: It’s affecting us, today, in the places where we live.