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Opinion: To Solve the Climate Crisis, Humanity Must Think Globally and Act Globally

Opinion: To Solve the Climate Crisis, Humanity Must Think Globally and Act Globally

A flock of sandpipers flying around the Kendall Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserve. Chris Stone. Photo

Humans have shown an almost limitless capacity for innovation. We’ve domesticated fire, mastered flight, mapped our own genome and invented the wheel, telescope and Internet. So why are we so lackadaisical, so inept, at tackling the climate crisis, the greatest existential threat we’ve ever faced?

It’s not because we’ve lost the knack for innovation. For example, clever minds have just discovered how to make clothes. CottonEngineered to replace petroleum-derived polyester synthetics that pollute our air, water and food with non-biodegradable plastic microfibers.

Nor is it because we don’t know what needs to be done to prevent climate disaster: Stop dumping carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

So, what’s at the root of humanity’s incompetence when it comes to solving the climate crisis?

For a while it was easy to invoke the “slow boil” explanation, that climate change is such a slowly evolving threat that humans behave like the frog thrown into a cool pot of water that’s heated up so gradually the frog doesn’t notice it’s being cooked alive. This explanation is no longer plausible, given that almost every region of the globe is experiencing record-breaking climate extremes such as wildfires and droughts, tornadoes hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and flooding.

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