Fires that have consumed swathes of Australia, the Arctic and now the western U.S. are lighting only a tiny flame under climate action for the world’s top polluters. It’s hard to imagine how the past two years could have included more environmental alarm bells, from the ancient peatlands ablaze in the thawing north to mercury hitting just over 54 degrees Celsius (130 Farenheit) in California’s Death Valley, after the hottest decade on record. Even that isn’t changing enough minds.
So, what will it take? Focusing less on the deniers, learning to work with biases, alongside communities and expanding the green lobby as benefits spread would be a start.
Last week offered a clear example of the extent of the problem. Meeting California state officials to discuss out-of-control wildfires, U.S. President Donald Trump was told global warming was making the situation worse. “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch,” he said. The science suggests otherwise, came the reply from the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. “Well, I don’t think science knows, actually.” This isn’t a unique response, and suggests fact and experience aren’t enough.