Get Invoved with WCTM:
TIME’S Gifts

TIME’S Gifts

Today I received my Thanksgiving gift from Time Books, a 112-page paperback worthy of Time magazine traditions titled “Global Warming: The Causes-The Perils-The Solutions.” As journalists do, the authors balanced attention among different opinions: the “War on Coal” section started with public health damage facts about mining and burning  coal, went to businessmen who talked menacingly about power outages credited to EPA regulations which discourage coal, and rounded discussion with hopes that EPA  regulations on coal producers would lead to more American jobs as well as better air quality.

The Time journalists’ summary of world environmental problems is informative and has wonderful photos, but they offer only timid “solutions.” They applaud the Sierra Club’s  politically-realistic shift from attacking coal’s greenhouse gas emissions  to a “Beyond Coal” program. The newer persuasion model pushes cutting down on  coal to reduce conventional emissions, like mercury and particulates, which inflict more direct and predictable damages than whatever harms climate change may bring.  With money from New York Mayor Bloomberg, the club’s public health campaigns have helped block construction of 150 proposed coal plants.

The book ends with a short essay by Bill McKibben, the environmentalist  icon who has written  for decades about climate change. McKibben bemoans political deadlocks that kill actions needed to slow global warming, even as  greenhouse gas levels continue up.   Despite unprecedented droughts and storms, most politicians continue to worship at the altar of economic growth and refuse to lead in our ongoing war that pits human beings against natural systems, physics and chemistry. Time has given us a slick, easy read of global warming problems, coupled with its unstated assumption that fighting climate change should be pain-free.

Newsweek magazine’s 11/26/12 cover story is “12 Ways to Avoid the Next Catastrophe” and has a slightly different tack, focused on governments’ investing on infrastructure built to survive Hurricane Sandys and other extremes. Newsweek’s recipe to avoid “Everyday Armageddon” includes items like “Increase tree trimming to prevent downed electrical lines during storms” and move some wires underground. Newsweek’s suggestions are useful, but there is nothing about slowing climate change, only tips for managing change with infrastructure capable of  delivering power, transportation and other basic needs under stress. Unfortunately that’s about as far as mainstream media discussion will go today.


No comments yet.

Add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe to Newsletter