In my post about desalination plants, I mentioned the number of facilities already dotting the coastal landscapes of more than a hundred countries. The number–over 20,000 and counting–was sort of outrageous to me, I suppose. But as I continue to inform myself about the state of the planet, I realize that my astonishment is simply the result of an embarrassing confession—I haven’t been paying enough attention.

Who among us decides that they want to make learning about the world’s climate affairs a priority in their life? Even as dramatic as the daily weather-related headlines can be, most of us will give a quick acknowledgment of concern, and then move on to other more pressing details of our individual existences.  We’re busy paying bills, saving for retirement, raising families, planning for next year’s vacation. And anyway, it’s just one more problem. Somebody’s already figuring it out, right?

In the meantime, we are temporarily shocked when we hear of the astounding amount of acreage that’s been burned by this summer’s wildfires, or we see the devastation from the latest flood to hit the planet, or we watch the ever-growing crowd of “environmental refugees” leaving behind what was only recently productive irrigated farmland, now looking like the dust bowls our own country once experienced. Is it just our imagination, or are cataclysmic events sort of becoming the norm?

If you read with any sort of sustained enthusiasm about a topic that interests you, making discoveries you never saw coming will almost certainly be the result. Such is the case with regard to Climate Change. Educate yourself even just a little bit and your jaw will predictably drop.

I liken the surprise to a horrible car accident that we come upon while driving down the parkway. The whoosh of traffic is a part of our ‘any given day.’ Everybody’s cruising, going places, feeling fine and fancy free. Then Bang! Progress slows to a crawl so that everyone has time to gawk at the carnage, some gasping, others checking the time and muttering under their breath. The whole thing is always so unexpected, although statistically, a perfectly timed event in the grand scheme of things.

Twisted metal, spilled fluids, flashing lights, uniforms directing traffic. There’s a stretcher covered over by a white sheet with some blood staining it. Such a tragedy. We hope it wasn’t anybody we know.

Anyway, ten minutes later, we’ve eased on back to breakneck speed, cursing all the other morons we have to share the road with. For all the foresight the scene gave us about being a more conscientious driver, the collision might just as well have not occurred at all. As far as we can tell, it’s an inevitable price that some of us pay for the luxury to cruise down the highway of life. That’s something that happens to other people, not us.

But…this is global climate change. It’s not happening over there, in the other lane or across the median, but everywhere, including here. The U.S. isn’t exempt any more than any other country. It’s already showing up at our back door. For most of us, however, it’s still an annoying scratching noise that we’d just as soon pretend we don’t hear.

For many of us, as we move into these frightening uncharted waters, the best option will be to cover our faces and hope for the best.  Meanwhile, if you’re unafraid, welcome challenges, and you’re looking for a new cliffhanger to face head on, Climate Change is your baby! It’s already been said that untold billions will be made by those innovators smart enough to steer us out of this mess.

For me, that’s an amazing truth.

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