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The Disconnect on Global Warming

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMay 25, 2011 5:57 PM


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I've been traveling, so I've only been keeping up with the news sporadically. But this front page NYT story from Monday, about Chicago (and other cities) preparing for climate change, deserves mention. It also highlights the parallel (but strikingly different) universes of the climate change debate. In her piece, Leslie Kaufman nicely displays the disconnect here:

"Cities adapt or they go away," said Aaron N. Durnbaugh, deputy commissioner of Chicago's Department of Environment. "Climate change is happening in both real and dramatic ways, but also in slow, pervasive ways. We can handle it, but we do need to acknowledge it. We are on a 50-year cycle, but we need to get going." Across America and in Congress, the very existence of climate change continues to be challenged "” especially by conservatives. The skeptics are supported by constituents wary of science and concerned about the economic impacts of stronger regulation. Yet even as the debate rages on, city and state planners are beginning to prepare.

City and state planners, like U.S military planners, are taking climate science seriously. If this trend continues, persistent climate skeptics--the kind who are sneeringly dismissive of climate change concerns and antagonistic to climate science--are likely to find themselves increasingly marginalized. It'll probably take another few election cycles before the two parallel (climate) universes are more closely aligned.

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