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Who Talks About Polar Bears Anymore?

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorSeptember 23, 2011 1:46 AM


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I'm not sure what climate change debate Alexis Madrigal has been paying attention to the last few years, but he sounds like Rip Van Winkle here:

I've been kicking around an idea recently that crystallized in the form of a short "Room for Debate" op-ed on green jobs that I wrote for The New York Times yesterday. Here's the relevant snip: The president should remind people that stopping global warming isn't about nature or "saving the planet." Some set of plants and animals will survive. Human infrastructure is what's in danger. We've built cities predicated on one climate and now those places have a new one. Climactic chaos is expensive.The nugget of the argument here is the framing fighting climate change as a way to help nature is flawed.

Huh? What leading spokesperson, scientist or politician says that we have to save nature from global warming? Did you hear that during the Congressional cap & trade debate, or at the Copenhagen climate talks? Yes, there is ongoing research (and plenty of media stories) that investigates climate change impacts to ecosystems and wildlife. It is part of the larger conversation. But these days influential pundits and scientists mostly argue that we have to save ourselves from global warming. I'm not suggesting that this is winning the day any more than a plea for polar bears is. I just don't see cuddly animals or nature, per se, as a main component of the public climate debate--at least not any longer.

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