WASHINTON — The level of alarm over climate change in the U.S. atmosphere has passed a milestone, scientists reported Sunday, reaching a concentration not seen in the country for years. Scientific instruments showed that concern had reached an average daily level of “Maybe Global Warming Isn’t Bullshit After All,” up from “The Weather Has Been Weird Lately, What’s That All About?”
Scientists say it’s an important indicator as to just how much information Americans are willing to ignore.
“It symbolizes that we’ve failed miserably in estimating just how not worried people are,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Concordance Administration, which reported the new reading.
“No one could have predicted that American interest in climate change would jump. We’ve experienced record-breaking hot summers, a hurricane devastating the Northeast … for Americans to finally put two and two together is rather astounding.”
A piece of news that broke last week may be responsible for the shift in perception. Devices in Hawaii detected that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has risen to above 400 parts per million — the highest it’s been for at least 3 million years, according to the best available data. That level was reached in the Arctic last year, though this is the first time an average reading for an entire day surpassed 400 parts per million.
The U.S. has so far refused to adopt official goals to limit global warming anxiety. Politicians warn such moves could lead to another recession, but ignoring the problem is not a solution, according to Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Trepidation.
“We’re on the edge of a cliff right now,” said Keeling. “If these trends continue, it’s not absurd to think that in 25 years, we’ll be seeing ‘Alright, I’ll Drive My Car Less’ levels. We can’t afford to let Americans get less apathetic.
“Assuming this is a problem that’s made-up or that it can solve itself is going to lead to ‘Alright, Let’s Really Try to Deal With Climate Change If Possible,’ and there is absolutely no coming back after that.”