Like many others, I was transfixed by the drama of the trapped youngsters in Thailand, hoping they would make it out of the flooded cave. The way people came together to solve the problem was heartwarming. The same newspapers carry stories of extreme flooding in Japan, Atlanta, and Hawaii, while extreme drought and heat again make life difficult for agriculture in the western U.S. Although floods and droughts have always occurred, their increasing frequency and intensity is just what climate scientists have predicted as we continue to take carbon that belongs in the ground and dump it into the air.
It’s no doubt human nature to focus our concerns on immediate, visceral problems such as the Thai soccer team. But if the flipside of that is our tendency to hide our heads in the sand when faced with long-term, complex issues, I worry about our future. By all means, let’s stay compassionate and motivated by human interest stories. But let’s also set ourselves the challenge of harnessing similar energies for the harder (but still solvable) problems all mankind faces, foremost among them being climate change.