The climate change story that generated way more reader mail than Will Smith’s Oscars slap
Big thanks to Mary McNamara for writing about our lack of attention on the most pressing issue for all humans on the planet [“Quit Fiddlin’ While Earth Burns,” April 8]. I have been wandering around feeling like Debbie Downer because I don’t see much of a future if we continue doing nothing to stop our dependence on fossil fuels. Right now we have a big opportunity to justify changing our energy sources because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but I don’t hear anyone talking about it that way.
Two years into COVID, I’ve been thinking, “Nothing will ever go back to normal,” but on TV, corporate America tells me everything is fine and dandy. Maybe we should all binge “The Walking Dead” or another dystopian show (have you wondered why there have been so many dystopian shows popular on television this past decade?) and take notes. We might learn something for our future survival.
California salmon are at risk of extinction. A plan to save them stirs hope and controversy
As dams and global warming push endangered California salmon to the brink, a rescue plan is taking shape — and a tribe pushes for recovering their sacred fish.
Thank you to Mary McNamara for keeping our priorities straight. The most immediate way to avert this existential crisis is to elect members of Congress who support, at a minimum, the climate change portions of the “Build Back Better” bill currently stalled in the Senate.
Marina Del Rey
The climate section of the L.A. Times is sure filled with a lot of hand-wringing these days. Mary McNamara chides us that the only thing we should be talking about is the climate crisis. Nicholas Goldberg tells us the end of the world is coming, and he is alarmed at our collective yawn. Meanwhile, scientists chained themselves to Chase Bank in downtown. They did something. They got arrested. And the L.A. Times didn’t even cover it. I had to read about it in Common Cause.
Perhaps Chase Bank is too big of an advertiser to offend? Just like all the oil companies before it.
Pardon me if I don’t rush to the nearest protest. You probably won’t even cover it.
Mary McNamara says it like it is: “We all need to vote — and agitate — as if our lives depended on it, because they do, and we need to remind ourselves of this on a daily basis.”
What is missing is the political will to make the hard changes we need. That will is weakened by fossil fuel interests who lobby against those changes.
Thanks to The Times for Mary McNamara’s excellent, insightful article about our apparent indifference to the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry has done a masterful job to date of concealing the effects of its products, but articles like this will hopefully wake us up.
Mary McNamara’s important article on the climate crisis was way back in the Calendar section of Friday’s L.A. Times. It should have been on the front page, with a screaming headline.
I was so happy to read Mary McNamara’s article about climate change today. Not that it’s a happy topic by any means, but her message to the media and to all of us is spot on. Really, why aren’t we talking about this very real threat to our existence every day? And why was the article on the IPCC’s latest report not the headline on the front of the L.A. Times and every other newspaper last week?
Come on L.A. Times, time’s a wastin’.
I applaud The Times for their coverage of the climate crisis. However, there is much more to report, especially of what people are doing to prevent this catastrophe.
On March 25, young people around the world (including myself) protested for the climate as part of the Fridays for Future movement. In L.A., we rallied for SB 1173 (a bill that would force the pension fund of California teachers to divest from fossil fuels), which recently passed through committee — a step toward a better world.
On April 7, three L.A. scientists peacefully occupied the entrance to a Chase building along with their colleagues around the world. In response, dozens of police were sent to close down the area and arrest them.
But an L.A. Times reader would know none of this. I know our planet is overflowing with problems right now, but doesn’t the end of the world seem worthy of some press?
Bravo to Mary McNamara for her prescient article in the Calendar section about our strange collective indifference to the most vital threat to humanity and the planet — our warming climate.
The column should have have been on the front page instead of the slap heard round the world. We are looking at the impending end of our species, and perhaps the entire mammalian and avian population of our Earth. . Maybe the world will be better off without us — but I have grandchildren. I want them to survive.
Not only have a group of Los Angeles educators been talking about climate change (now climate crisis), they wrote a resolution for a climate literacy curriculum, lobbied the LAUSD Board of Education to unanimously pass the resolution (Res-016-21/22) and are currently organizing to push for the full implementation of the resolution.
In 2008, the California PTA declared climate change is a children’s issue. Our children and grandchildren will contend with the increasing disasters resulting from the global heating-driven climate change. Children in the United States are already contending with devastating wildfires, deadly heat waves and bigger and stronger storms. The future holds the increasing probability of collapsing sea food stocks due to ocean acidification, declining food production and coastline flooding and loss.
These consequences of a changing climate are not inevitable. As Mary McNamara quotes Adam McKay in her article, “That’s the tragedy of what is happening — we have the science and the solutions. The only thing that’s lacking is awareness.” A climate literacy curriculum will build that awareness, present solutions and build the political will to address this crisis.
The placement of Mary McNamara’s article regarding the frightening lack of response to our true crisis of climate change on Earth exemplifies exactly her point. A more appropriate placement would be on the front page. Her thoughtful comments on how we all just continue in our ways is spot on. I have difficulty reconciling what is truly happening to our planet with the picky bickering that is preventing action.
The time is now (actually yesterday) for serious action.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Kudos to Mary McNamara and the Los Angeles Times for her focus on basics, like the survival of our planetary life-support system. She broke through the din of enjoyable distractions including my own distraction of choice — Netflix. That said, I regularly read The Times’ “Boiling Point” by Sammy Roth and lobby Congress on the need to put a serious price on carbon so my grandchildren will have a future.
Regarding the Will Smith slap incident, referenced by McNamara, the real slap in the big picture that should create a public stir came in the most recent IPCC report referenced by her. If we don’t speak out and demand climate action from our officials, and vote accordingly, scientists warn that the human race is within mere years of ringing down the curtain on civilization. It’s time to stop “fiddling while Earth burns.”
I know we are hurtling toward catastrophe. I’m aware I spent more time this past week talking about Will Smith than global temperature rise. But when she quoted filmmaker Adam McKay, saying the media are not reporting on climate often or urgently enough, I felt compelled to flip back through that day’s edition of The Times. It carried nothing about global warming in the first section, the California section or the Calendar section — except McNamara’s article.
There was also the weather forecast on the bottom of page A1, for the eighth day of April: sunny and hot. High: 95 degrees.
How ironic that Mary McNamara’s column on climate change appeared in the Calendar section, while the Will Smith slap continued to be front-page news. And how disappointing that the day after McNamara’s column was published, the Will Smith slap continued to be on the front page (along with, of course, Bill Plaschke on the Dodgers), and there was not one article in the entire edition about what we humans are doing to destroy the planet and how we can change the course of the destruction.
McNamara quotes Adam McKay as saying, “[W]e have the science and the solutions. The only thing that’s lacking is the awareness.” Who knows what it will take to make everyone aware to the point that they are convinced to do something — to change behaviors, opinions and allegiances. But it would help if the L.A. Times could get the subject off the entertainment page and onto the front page. It’s really important.
These are absurd times. Despite decades of warnings as well as seeing with our own eyes the devastation being wrecked by global warming, we continue a “mass-suicidal march toward extreme-weather oblivion.”
But the answer to McNamara’s central question about the source of our indifference is obvious. Fossil fuel interests have used their wealth to support elected officials who will not disturb their business model (witness how one coal state senator has blocked climate action).
Utilizing misinformation and delay, the industry wants us to think we’re not ready or able to give up these dirty fuels, that more science or more technology is needed. The recent IPCC report concludes that the barriers to mitigating the climate crisis are entirely political.
Nothing is holding us back. Affordable clean energy is available. If climate legislation included a price on carbon, we could reduce emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
According to Yale Climate Opinion polling, 65% of Americans are worried about “global warming” but only 43% discuss it — even occasionally. Almost two-thirds of us are worried about the climate crisis, but we mostly avoid talking about it. This avoidance is caused by the power of fossil fuel interests to create widespread confusion about what policies would calm our climate and block meaningful action at every level — especially in Congress.
We do have the policies and technology to calm our climate. We must communicate, organize and act to get them implemented now!
John D. Kelley
I’m as guilty as anybody. Sure — save the world, but first, I got new tires for my grandson’s electric bike, had to see Tiger compete once again, catch the Van Gogh exhibit and walk on the sands at Del Mar in 75-degree weather.
We human beings are not capable (almost) to handle this pending catastrophe. We are too comfortable or too caught up or too distracted to mount a consistent effort.
That is why we need an automatic mechanism that works unconditionally behind the scenes — such as a carbon tax and a dividend back to consumers.
How about taking a head count of the titans of industry, the power brokers in finance and a handful of billionaires?
Thanks to Mary McNamara for reminding us about the dire consequences of ignoring the climate crisis. Indeed, this is the biggest news story in human history. Its impact can be felt in the invasion in Ukraine, in diminishment of species, in global refugee crises, in health issues and most other stories that hit the front page. When we view these headlines through a climate crisis lens, we will be more likely to take the drastic action we need.
By fast-forwarding action on climate, we can make a healthier, happier, more equitable world for ourselves and our children.
Margaret Baker Davis
Kudos to Mary McNamara for her article on climate change, and boos to L.A. Times for their priorities. Her article on our looming disaster should have been on front page and yet another (yawn) article about the Will Smith slap should definitely be in the Calendar section.
With the amount of monies being spent on military, I would think we could get an electric car into the hands of every driver’s license holder plus the charging stations required. And don’t get me started on those lobbyists.
For obvious reasons, when discussing global warming, the media never mentions the sacred cow of animal and dairy production that account for more than half the greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
People may not be able to install solar in their homes or buy an electric vehicle, but everyone can cut back on eating animal meat and dairy products — everyone.
Mary McNamara starts her article by asking, “Why are we talking about anything but climate change?” And I ask, “Why was Mary’s article tucked in the arts and culture section and not on the front page?” It is on point with the latest IPCC climate data and expresses fitting frustration over our inaction but still manages to be humorous. This is just the kind of approach to the public we need now — stories that engage and activate ordinary people — because with the failure of governments to act effectively, it seems people power is the only thing that can force change.
Mary McNamara’s urgent call to action on the frightening consequences of not doing more to combat climate change couldn’t be more timely as we see the effects accelerating all around us. She even suggests a more stronger moniker than “climate charge,” referring to it as a climate “crisis.” Will that wake people up?
I remember global warming doubters saying, “How can it be global warming when the temperature was below freezing all week?” Obviously they didn’t know, or maybe didn’t care about the reality of what it meant, so climate “change” seemed like a better choice. Now that we know that didn’t alarm people enough, I have my own suggestion; instead of “climate change” or “climate crisis” how about “climate catastrophe”?
Darrell S. Breckenfeld
Desert Hot Springs
Popular wisdom ascribes Nero’s action while Rome burned to madness and lack of empathy. The same could be said about the fiddlers who rule today. But who calls them out?
Mary McNamara did. Whatever surveys we are asked to respond to about “issues” in the world today, and however serious these issues may be, none of them matter if humankind does not face up to the threat of Earth burning. In fact, we all had better quit fiddling in order to help extinguish the fire.
Why dissect the Oscars slap? Sit tight for another decade and the option to take arms against a sea of troubles will literally have gone up in smoke. If science is right, we still have that decade. Anyone for survival of the Earth? Step right up.
The deep roots of American populism
Regarding “Facts From Fiction” [April 10], David L. Ulin’s review of the book “American Stutter: 2019-2021”: Steve Erickson’s new book sounds like a relational descendant to Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.” The fear and loathing part of our politics — marked by fantastical fictions with evident hallucinogenic aspects — has morphed and intensified over the past decades as we find ourselves, once again, in the midst of “the coming apart of the country.”
Erickson notes that “Trumpism has been around for decades, we just didn’t call it that.” This corrosive authoritarian/nationalist strain ebbs and flows throughout our history. Think Louisiana Gov. Huey Long’s rabble-rousing run for president in 1936 as an earlier incarnation of politics-as-spectacle.
In this mind-altering moment of looming threats, we need writers such as Erickson to sound the alarms with justifiable ferocity and outrage.
Barbara Allen Kenney
Courtney B. Vance for the defense
I enjoyed Greg Braxton’s interview with Courtney B. Vance [“The Secret of His Success? Defending O.J.,” April 10], and I remain a fierce advocate of everyone having the right to a capable defense, but the Emmy Award-winning actor seemed to be dipping a toe or two into the waters of not just admiration for the late Johnnie Cochran, but also implying that prosecutor Marcia Clark was some hapless mark for the wily defense attorney.
Let us never forget Cochran was the point guard on the legal team that set free a self-admitted wife beater later deemed by a jury to be responsible for the death of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman, a verdict that essentially vindicated the efforts of Clark and others.
There’s a reason we all roll our eyes whenever we hear the words “finding the real killers,” and we all know what it is.
William P. Bekkala
Ukraine’s music connection
In Christi Carras’ article on Zelensky’s speech at the Grammys [“Zelensky Asks: ‘Support Us’,” April 4], she quotes the Ukrainian president as saying “music will break through.”
“Break on through” indeed. Two weeks ago, I put up a couple sentences of solidarity with Ukraine and got a response from a woman in Kyiv. She said she was making “hot cocktails” while listening to “Light My Fire” and that music is a weapon.
The Doors have put out a T-shirt with our logo in Ukraine colors. All proceeds go to Ukraine.
John Densmore, member of the Doors
Regarding “Burns Sheds Light on Key Kite Flier” [April 4]: I thought Robert Lloyd covered the Ken Burns documentary “Ben Franklin” very well in his review.
I had a chuckle when he mentioned the Postal Service, then laughed out loud when the program said Franklin accomplished getting a letter from Philadelphia to New York in one day. Currently it can take more than one day to get a letter from one part of L.A. County to another.
What’s happened to the Calendar section? I have been an L.A. Times reader for more than 40 years and my one guilty pleasure after pages of crime, wars, divisiveness and crooked politicians was I could finally settle back and read the latest Hollywood news. I understood when the pandemic basically shut down the studios and theaters there wasn’t much to report, but now films are back in production, plays are happening and I’m sure there has to be some interesting business deals or fan gossip of interest.
Lately it’s been about four pages of books, rock bands and the art world. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but where are the usual three pages of film reviews on Fridays or film acquisitions or star fluff-pieces, etc.?
L.A. is still a company town last time I looked.
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