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Climate Change Faux Pas

Graffiti in Jerusalem (P.C. Justin Asarch)

Today my area of California experienced a large electrical storm from all the heat we have been having. It seemed to form right above the house; the deep rumbling freaked out my dogs. I didn’t think much of it because I assumed it would go away as quick as it appeared, so I started to head downtown to run errands.

On the drive down, I noticed that many people were outside taking photos and videos of the storm (we don’t have these very often here). Lightning began lighting up the sky like it was trying to compete with the 4th of July. By the time I parked, it was down pouring. I ran to the entrance of Sur La Table, soaking wet.

The only people in the store were three ladies who worked there. They were all peaking outside at the rain and lightning. One of the turned to me and said that she thought that with the hurricanes and forest fires and now this, the weather seems to all be a bit strange and nerve-wracking. I responded by saying, “Yep! Hashtag climate change.” Immediately I thought to myself was that appropriate to say? as if I was being politically or religiously biased by saying something like that. What didn’t help was that the ladies were all hesitant and unsure to respond, almost as if they weren’t sure if I was saying something they agreed with or not.

Now I live in a fairly liberal area so for me to be second-guessing my statements and others second-guessing their responses on this topic means a lot. Why are we still so concerned with bring up global climate change? It seems ever present in our lives as the warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures cause the climate to be more extreme. Yet, people still don’t seem comfortable enough with the science to accept it as something comfortable to talk about.

Or is it more like talking about cancer? People wouldn’t say “hashtag cancer” willy-nilly because it’s such a sensitive topic. So is that it? Are we treating climate change like it is the planet’s cancer?

Or is it like talking about the Trail of Tears? Are humans awkward about climate change because it makes them feel guilty?

I honestly don’t know the answer to this. I have hypotheses. But this is food for thought that I will continue to think about probably until climate change is no longer faux pas in a public conversation.

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