Is Hollywood drowning out climate change? Let's be practical

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Yuwen Memon/Flickr

It’s frustrating for climate activists that some people seem to care more about Hollywood couples than global warming.

Of course, it might bother you that people care about the rich and famous at all. But that’s human nature – we all need some frothy diversions from our daily lives.

And yet, America’s obsession with Hollywood feels a bit like we’re endlessly banging on the front door yelling “Fire!” – only to be told, “Yes, we see the flames on the drapes, but America’s Got Talent is on!”

I’m not saying that people don’t support climate action, because they clearly do. Several recent polls have shown that two-thirds of Americans support the President’s plan to end unlimited carbon pollution from power plants.

So, some activists ask, how come they don’t give this issue the attention it deserves – considering what enormous consequences climate change will have for our society?

The world is full of problems

The truth is there are a host of big, global challenges that most of us basically ignore every day.

Our lives are consumed by problems much closer to home: keeping our jobs, paying the bills, raising our children

We’re horrified when we’re shown the facts about grinding poverty or devastating diseases. A link or Facebook post about torture or human trafficking  can linger in our mind for weeks.

But how many of us drop what we do and devote our lives to alleviate the suffering of our fellow humans? How often do we give more than a token amount of our income to support those who do?

Most important, how often do we demand that our elected officials focus on these challenges until they’re solved?

Need to pay bills, can’t save planet

The answer, of course, is that very few of us do any of those things. Our lives are consumed by problems much closer to home: keeping our jobs, paying the bills, raising our children.

And for many people whose economic situations are precarious, life provides more than enough anxiety as is. We can care about those larger, global problems – but we simply don’t have the time or mental space to think too much about saving the world.

Guess what? Climate change affects you – now.

So how can climate activists reach those who don’t seem to care much about global warming? The answer is simple: Make the issue relevant to their daily struggles.

  • They care about their children’s health and future, so remind them of the impact climate change has on both.
  • They worry about the economy and costs, so make clear how much they are affected by the roller coaster of fossil fuel prices.
  • People care about the weather – especially extreme weather that affects their lives, businesses and safety – so let them know it’s already happening.

And now that you have their ear:

  • Tell them that cutting carbon emission will also help reduce other forms of air pollution, modernize our economy, develop new technologies, and reduce our dependence on oil from dangerous places.

What we shouldn’t do is criticize regular people who aren’t thinking enough about climate change.

Instead, let’s continue to make our climate action case in as practical a way as possible. Connect the dangers of climate change to the here and now. Show people how ending unlimited carbon pollution will help them and how they can affect political decisions.

Because, after all, it is average people who will suffer the most from climate change. Kim and Kanye may not leave quite as much beachfront real estate to North, but they’ll be fine.

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Keith Gaby

Keith Gaby

Blogs about politics and climate change.

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Comments

As long as the basic needs for life are met today, people won't care about the impacts of climate change tomorrow. It will be those less fortunate who will feel it first, and the rest with money will cope in various ways that requires money.