Ignoring Climate Change Symptoms Will Lead to Terminal Diagnosis

Scientist holding black and white globe
Scientist holding black and white globe

As a nurse, I can tell you how hard it is to be present when someone is getting the news of a terminal diagnosis. Worse yet is when there were signs, many of them, that were ignored. Signs that, had they acted, would have likely resulted in a very different outcome. What is it that causes one person to ignore the signs until it is too late, while another seeks help and gets a cure?

Recently, I have had some well-meaning friends and family tell me that I worry too much about climate change. That I can't do anything about it, so I need to stop worrying. Every part of me that is a mother and every part that is a nurse wants to yell back, "No! Don't you say that."

Ignoring symptoms of climate change, or denying that it is happening, does not help us any more than it helps someone with early signs of cancer. Telling each other to stop worrying about it is not going to save us. It is not going to save our children. The only way that we can save ourselves is if we face this difficult and scary diagnosis. Climate change is happening. It's happening right now. And if we keep ignoring this problem, it will become a terminal diagnosis.

"Ignoring symptoms of climate change, or denying that it is happening, does not help us any more than it helps someone with early signs of cancer."

You probably know some of the early cancer signs. Do you know what some of the signs of climate change are? These are 10 common signs: 1) Higher Temperatures, 2) Changing Rain and Snow Patterns, 3) Rising Sea Levels, 4) Increase in Droughts, 5) Warmer Oceans, 5) Extreme Weather, 7) Increased Ocean Acidity, 8) Shrinking Sea Ice and Melting Glaciers, 9) More Severe Fire Seasons, and 10) Less Snowpack.

Unless you have been on a deserted island with no access to any news, you will recognize that we have all those symptoms. Sure, there will be comments posted below trying to cast doubt about the science, but most of us have seen enough. We're ready to face the truth. Climate change is happening. It's time to get treatment. So what can we do?

Seven Things You Can Do About Climate Change

1. Learn more about your "disease."

What causes it? What are the treatment options? You can start with short, informative and entertaining videos here. Skeptical Science is a site that dispels some of the myths about climate change. Union of Concerned Scientist and NASA are two additional reliable sources for information.

2. Find an organization that is working on climate change.

I belong to the Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL), but there are many organizations that are working on this problem -- join one.

3. Let your congressional representatives and other government leaders know that you want them to work on solutions for climate change.

Many are worried too, but they need a nudge. Contact your representatives here. Perhaps you find that your rep is not willing to address climate change? Maybe think about finding new representation.

4. Find out what you can do personally to reduce your carbon footprint at Carbon Fund.

5. Even better, support legislation that will correctly price the cost of carbon such as CCL's Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD).

It's important that we not fall behind in green technologies anyway. Why keep investing in typewriters when computers will be the new thing? Same goes for fossil fuels versus clean energy technologies. A CFD helps us to predictably and quickly get out of the old (fossil fuels) and get into the new (green energy technologies), while still increasing jobs and helping the economy.

Remember how tobacco companies used denial about the link to lung cancer? Well, the fossil fuel industry has a lot to gain if we keep delaying treatment.

7. Share your concerns with friends and family...

...and let them know that we must stop ignoring this problem.

Anyone who has fought cancer and won will know that the battle is not easy. Their bodies will often have scars that will forever remind them that life is precious and worth the fight. Often, every moment experienced thereafter is sweeter -- a graduation, a wedding, the birth of a grandchild -- sweeter knowing that these moments were not guaranteed.

But this fight isn't just to save ourselves. Most of us who have already joined this battle are doing so for our children. It is their future that we are fighting to save. There is still hope for a cure, but there is a point when it can be too late.

This month, as we celebrate Earth Day, I challenge you to take a long hard look at what is happening. We are a nation of fighters, inventors, innovators. We are survivors. I challenge you to get into the fight. Our children need you. Will you be the one who helps us win this battle?

Will you be the one?