Melting sea ice (Flickr\ U.S. Geological Survey)
Melting sea ice (Flickr\ U.S. Geological Survey)
About 10 years ago, when I worked on a mercury pollution campaign, an industry representative challenged me and a toxicologist on whether mercury in fish is really that bad. In response, my colleague shot back: “if we had body bags then we wouldn’t be having this argument.” Dangers that are more insidious and subtle are easier to sweep under the rug, to ignore for another day, or until you are personally afflicted.

How does this relate to the campaign that currently consumes all of my attention: tackling carbon pollution that’s driving climate change? In many ways, climate change is similarly insidious, and some could argue subtle.

So, what will it take to get mainstream America to see climate change as not a nuisance for others to contend with, but a problem that we can all play a very active role in tackling?

Photos that shock and horrify, and make your heart sink? If yes, we’ve got one for you: a starved polar bear found dead in Svalbard, who “looked basically like a rug,” according to the photographer.

That photo can now go into the memory bank along with the picture of the starved puffin chicks off the New England coast. Or of the moose calves that were consumed by record number of ticks, which their weak systems couldn’t fend off.

I am not writing this for sensational reasons. I am writing this because I am angry and saddened, and hope that it will propel you and your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to become active in tackling the climate crisis.

There are things we can do besides be angry. Start at home, at school, at your business. You can invest in energy efficient windows and doors. You can partner with companies like Sungevity, who are looking for rooftops on which to install solar panels—at no cost to you!  You can sign up your school to join an international network of Eco-Schools that pledge sustainability.


polarbearandcub3Take the next step and become more politically involved. Vote for people (at all levels of government) who see the opportunities in investing in renewable energy, who don’t deny climate change. Support federal actions to cut carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source in the U.S. Stand with your neighbors who are saying “yes” to wind turbines off the Atlantic Coast; and saying “no” to coal barges off the Pacific Ocean that threaten endangered orcas, and “no” to tar sands that threaten the endangered whooping crane.

Let’s band together and stop treating climate change as a nuisance. We have a severe problem on our hands, and those who don’t have a voice are experiencing it firsthand.

Stand Up for Wildlife

Take Action ButtonPlease join me and National Wildlife Federation, and stand up for wildlife and our children’s future. Let’s not wait for more shocking photos to propel us to act.