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Discussing climate change doesn’t happen very often in Middle Tennessee because rampant tribalism tends to polarizes conversations.

If we can’t talk about climate change, how can we fix it? Seven in 10 Americans are concerned about recent weather patterns but say they don’t understand global warming. Last winter, President Trump tweeted, “Global Warming? Are they serious? We’re having a blizzard here.”

Weather is caused by people as well as naturally occurring rhythms of the universe. Earth’s climate continually changes. Weather patterns are different than 50 years ago because of decreasing amounts of solar energy, caused by human activity.

Carbon dioxide warms the Earth as it’s released into the atmosphere and reflected back. Evidence comes from ice core samples, tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, layers of sedimentary rocks and satellites orbiting earth.

Thinking everything is normal because “it’s always been this hot in July” indicates a lack of understanding the big picture.

Living in Middle Tennessee, we are experiencing:

• Shorter and milder winters;

• Hot weather starting earlier and lasting longer;

• Long periods of drought followed by torrential rains;

• More severe wind damage.

NASA statistics prove levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere remained below 300 parts per million from 10,000 years ago until 1950. From 1950 until today, carbon dioxide levels have risen 120 points per million, meaning global warming occurs two and one-half times faster than it did a thousand years ago.

Earth’s average surface temperature rose 1.62 degrees in 35 years, with the most rapid warming increase occurring after 2010. The warmest year since records have been kept was 2016.

Air quality is not the only crisis of global warming. The rate of Antarctica’s ice-mass loss tripled in 10 years. From 1900 to 2000, the sea level rose 8 inches but since 2000, the rise has been 16 inches.

Fortunately, scientists know the cause is melting ice and shore erosion. Oceans absorb increased heat from carbon dioxide emissions that raise acidity of water and destroy sea life. The Gulf of Mexico has an 8,000-square mile stretch of garbage, causing a dead zone in the center.

Lack of manners, self-esteem and common sense give certain people permission to disregard basic rules of civility, causing environmental harm well into the future.

Global warming is an equal opportunity destroyer. What happens to the climate in Africa has direct consequences for Tennessee. Isolation from the rest of the world by withdrawing from climate treaties like the Paris Accord means we can’t monitor what underdeveloped countries do. We are our brother’s keeper.

Climate change and global warming can be combatted without negative consequences. Powerfully greedy owners of refineries, fracking companies and mines are the only people profiting from deregulation. If you know someone with emphysema, ask them what happens when they can’t get enough air in their lungs.That can become each of us 20 years from now.

Solutions need to replace arguments. Ask “how long do I have” instead of “what’s global warming got to do with me?”


  • · Become informed about climate change
  • · Be a steward of the earth
  • · Speak up about litter in your neighborhood
  • · Don’t throw garbage from cars, including cigarette butts
  • · Pick up trash in front of your house
  • · Don’t trash water sources
  • · Ask elected officials about correct environmental decisions
  • · Save land, kill kudzu
  • · Protect all wild life. Even snakes serve a purpose
  • · Plant trees and grow flowers for bees and butterflies
  • · Weatherize your home
  • · Use energy efficient and pollution free materials for new construction.
  • · Set thermostat to 72 degrees in summer, 68 in winter
  • · Replace old appliances with energy efficient ones
  • · Install solar panels 
  • · Turn off water while brushing your teeth
  • · Use biodegradable. detergents
  • · Don’t flush poisons
  • · Eat food you buy instead of throwing it away
  • · Have meat free days
  • · Buy food from local sources
  • · Plant a vegetable garden
  • · Drive fuel efficient vehicles
  • · Don’t floor the gas pedal
  • · Use cruise control
  • · Keep your car tuned
  • · Share rides to work and school
  • · Develop walking communities

The serious issues of global warming and climate change are being held hostage by tribalism, just like politics, religion and civility. Soon, we’ll view every issue through a “tribal” lens instead of thinking for ourselves. What happened to learning from informed research and education? Following “the herd” indicates you’re insecure. Think for yourself!

The truest definition of caring for the universe is when an old person plants a tree, knowing they will never live to sit in its shade 

Questions, comments, criticisms? Contact Dianne at or text (615) 924-2090.

Dianne Devoll Hotvedt is a motivational speaker and writer with 50 years in the field of health care. She lives happily in the woods with her husband and various critters.

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