Winter was brutal this year, highs in the teens day after day after day, torrential rains whenever the mercury rose into a more normal range for Middle Tennessee. A polar vortex prompted the president of the United States, who apparently does not know the difference between climate and weather, to tweet, “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”
The symptoms of climate change are well known, and its risks to some of our favorite creatures — tigers, sea turtles, elephants, giant pandas, mountain gorillas, monarch butterflies — are equally clear, though it’s easy to forget that in the comings and goings of our own daily lives. In December a National Geographic video of a starving polar bear went viral as people faced at a gut level the undeniable consequences of a phenomenon that can sometimes seem mainly theoretical.