*This post originally appeared on The PediaBlog on March 8, 2017.
Pictures Worth 1,000 Words
Part of my reasons for starting The PediaBlog four-and-a-half years ago was to create an accessible forum to better communicate pediatric issues that affect children, their parents, and the wider community. Now that I’ve retired from the daily practice of direct patient care, I’m focused on finding better ways of communicating about critical environmental health issues that affect all of us, especially climate change. I’m a big believer that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I sometimes wonder if I just presented a picture of the receding glacier above, I could drop the mic and we could all go home (and do some things to solve the problem).
Or the graph below, which considers the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, seen fluctuating over the past 400,000 years and then the final, unprecedented spike at the start of the Industrial Revolution, when humans started extracting and burning fossil fuels. You can tell a lot about the Earth’s geologic and climate histories by looking at this graph — when glaciers advanced and retreated, when Homo sapiens hit the scene (approximately 200,000 years ago), when civilization as we know it began (about 14,000 years ago), when Jesus was born (after the notch before year 0):
Or this photo, taken from Mars by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite, which looks back at our planet and moon — and the nothingness behind. When you stop and think about it, this small blue ball of rock and water is all we’ve got:
Tomorrow, we’ll keep things simple and use only 10 words to explain climate change.