Is this what political will looks like?

Smoke on the freeway by TonyGman

To quote the photographer:

This is the Perris, Ca, 215 northbound south of perris blvd during the morning commute. This would normally be a bright time of the day, but this morning, traffic was a little stop and go due to the smoke from the local fires here in southern california.

A little understated, perhaps?

As awful as all this was, I have to wonder if this is what it will take to get people to take climate change seriously. Unfortunately even people who realize that we have a major problem on our hands are often overwhelmed by the thing, and tend to add it to the long list of Bad Things That Mostly Affect Someone Else (AIDS in Africa, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, even Shrub’s fiasco in Iraq) and change the channel.

This is particularly sad because climate change is one of those things that Americans can do something about quite directly. It’s pretty hard for me to make a major difference in a lot of situations (although that’s no excuse for not trying), but climate change is all about my behavior. I can drive less (or not at all). I can replace incandescent bulbs with CFs and turn them off when I leave the room. I can turn down the thermostat. I can support alternative energy programs. I can purchase carbon offsets. I can avoid buying produce that flew half way around the world. I can reduce, reuse, recycle. And if even some of the rest of you do the same, we make a significant difference. We probably won’t solve the problem by ourselves, but we can start the ball rolling, proving that there is support for change at the consumer (and voter) level.

It’s arguably one of the best examples of where “Think Globally, Act Locally” can really make a profound difference.

Unfortunately important things like not driving and skipping the raspberries flown in from remote lands comes at a personal inconvenience. This requires will which, sadly, is typically driven by fear. So maybe we need a few scares like this (along with tragedies like Katrina) to generate the kind of immediacy and fear necessary to get us out of our single-occupant SUVs.

Best hope we turn things around before the tragedy comes to your home, though.

Thanks to TonyGman for the great photo.

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