“Climate Change Was On My Mind…”

Don Corrigan at Rocky Falls. Photo by Emery Styron

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

After three major floods in four years, a lot of Missourians living in flood plains are throwing in the towel — and a very wet one at that. They also have become believers in climate change, because seeing is believing.

Climate change was on my mind a few weeks ago when riding my bike on the Meramec Greenway. Actually, there was very little greenway left to ride. Most of the trail was under water. So I rode on top of the Valley Park Levee and a stretch of Marshall Road between flood barricades and the flood waters.

“This seems to be happening every year now,” I said to myself, while swatting mosquitoes; watching tadpoles swim over the roadway; and enjoying herons in flight over the waves of Tree Court Industrial Park and the fields of the Kirkwood Athletic Association.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about climate change in this space, but it’s not for a lack of material. Among the materials on my desk for reviewing:

• “Local Warming: An Almanac of American Climate Change” by Thomas Munro. He points out that more than 75% of months this decade in St. Louis have had temperatures above normal. A warmer atmosphere holds more water resulting in more intense rain events.

• “U.S. Report on Climate Change,” which cites more than a dozen federal agencies reporting increases in weather disasters. Many disasters are traced to climate change, which has been dissed as “a total con job” by the White House.

• “Climate Change: The Gathering Storm,” which predicts $54 trillion in cataclysmic global weather disasters over the next 12 years. It notes a lawsuit brought by 21 plaintiffs, between the ages of 11 and 22, who accuse the federal government of endangering their safety and welfare with fossil fuel energy policies that lead to climate change.

If you are still with me thus far, you are unusual. Most audiences are turned off by climate change journalism. One cable news commentator complains: “every single time we cover any climate change, it’s been a palpable ratings killer. So the incentives are not so great.”

While riding over the flood gates of Valley Park, I thought of some advice for environmentalists pitching stories to the media. Get some cats involved. From network TV down to local newspapers, we know Americans mostly care about their cats. Don’t send a report, try this:

— Hold a press conference showing pets covered with ticks! Climate change is dramatically increasing such pests. (Ticks on my kitten — Oh, Lord!)

— Hold a press conference with a burning rock of Arch coal. Show the soot that goes into the air, and note that the EPA recently killed clean air standards. (Holy smokes, my kitten can’t breathe!)

— Hold a press conference with a Geiger Counter registering the radioactive emissions from some of our landfills going under water. (Gurgle, gurgle, oh my gosh, kitty’s fur is falling out!)

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