Letter to the editor: Denying climate change is easy, but comes at a cost
Lucy Grina, DVM
Michael Overend, DVM
The letter entitled “Global warming in this deep freeze? Nah.” was a cute story, or was it?
Is it “cute” to deny climate change, knowing the serious risks it poses to our children’s future?
Before 1970 smoking was “normal.” Most adults smoked and it was the norm in the media. Candy cigarettes were sold, and it looked “cute” to see kids puffing. Tobacco companies advertised smoking as healthy. By the 1970s, science proved the terrible costs in cancer and chronic health care costs. Big Tobacco knew denial of the facts kept them making big money; they fought relentlessly, spending hugely on lobbying and lawyers to be left alone by the government, figuring the American people could protect themselves.
Science showed smoking’s cumulative effects take time to develop, but the epidemic of lung cancer, heart and lung disease that devastated generations of smokers has finally been proven scientifically. The enormous costs for health care of smokers and second-hand smoke (with untold suffering) damaged our economy for decades. Meanwhile Big Tobacco denied it and made billions.
Americans finally decided they were done paying these enormous costs and asked Congress for a solution. Cigarettes priced at ten cents in the 1940s are now five dollars, reflecting the true COST of smoking on smokers and society. Legislation has curbed new smokers, however, Big Tobacco found that developing countries are a ripe new field of victims and are now inflicting the same malignant damage on people where governments will not protect them.
Not a very pretty story, or a very cute one, but it is the truth.
A very real and sad parallel exists between tobacco and climate change. The cost of climate change, however, will dwarf that of tobacco.
Vocal critics of climate change defend carbon energy sources — oil, coal, natural gas (Big Carbon) — to maintain our national economies, not recognizing the true costs climate change is causing our planet. Increased drought, flood, epic storms and wild fires caused by climate change create ever worsening famine and water shortages.
Climate change pressures populations by damaging crops, destroying forests, altering coastlines and displacing millions. Competition for dwindling resources results in conflict and more suffering, with costs in economic loss and misery beyond imagination. Climate change is the biggest risk to international security and public health in history.
Denying the true impact of tobacco use resulted in years of continued smoking for millions of Americans, magnifying health care costs and misery.
Denying the true impact of climate change creates a parallel problem, but on a global scale with costs to society that will climb to never imagined levels. Its effects are slower and harder to see than smoking, but it affects everyone, costs more, and will take more lives unless addressed immediately.
We can easily deny it and add to the problem daily by not changing our ways; acknowledging climate change, learning about it and taking action is harder.
For your children’s future, learn how to address climate change through personal, community and political action. Citizens Climate Lobby developed a thoughtful and reasonable plan that will work politically, have positive economic effects creating MORE jobs and better technology to improve life for everyone. For information visit:
Climate change denial supports Big Carbon to make billions at the expense of our children’s future, with consequences of enormous costs to our national economy, international security and human lives.
Denying climate change isn’t cute, but it’s easy. A better way exists through learning, and working with our fellow citizens and government, to address climate change as the most important problem of our children’s future.
Lucy Grina has a BS in Zoology from the University of Iowa and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota. Michael Overend has a BS in Biology and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota. They have been Lake County residents and small business owners since 1987.