The climate conversation


You are a High Country News reader, and thus, unlikely to be a subscriber to People magazine. But try as you might to stay above the pop culture fray, you’ve probably heard by now: Princess Kate is pregnant. She craves lavender shortbread. She is not, it turns out, too thin to be pregnant, though the jury of public opinion is still out on whether it’s a bit unseemly for her parents to cash in with their new line of baby shower products.

This week, thankfully, at least one thread in the royal baby storyline took on a serious tone: The prospect of becoming a grandfather has steeled Prince Charles' resolve to beat the drum about climate change. “Now that we will have a grandchild,” the longtime proponent of cutting carbon emissions said in an interview, “it makes it even more obvious to try and make sure we leave them something that isn’t a totally poisoned chalice.” (The British have such a way with words, don't they?)

The prince’s plea is timely, in a sense. There’s something about the turning of the New Year that prompts people to think, ‘Maybe this will be the year we start to take our carbon problem seriously.’ Headlines like this run with abandon: “2013: A Tipping Year for Climate Change?”

The more precise question to ask, though, is whether people will collectively care about climate change any more this year than they did last? Research released this fall concluded that 70 percent of Americans now believe that climate change is a real thing – an encouraging reversal of the recent decline in belief in its reality. “So why,” Bill Moyers recently asked Anthony Leiserowitz, of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, “isn’t the message (that we should do something about it) getting through?”

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