I was an emergency physician in Fargo then Fergus Falls for 34 years. As you can imagine, I saw many patients deny serious health issues. Smokers, alcoholics, the massively obese, and drug addicts often were unable or unwilling to see how their habits were causing them harm. Occasionally a patient would ignore an obvious mass or cancer symptom until treatment became impossible. In fact, denying bad circumstances is so common that all of us are likely to do it in one way or another. I can tell you that medical personnel rarely get angry at patients for denying illnesses, but often feel frustrated when treatments or interventions are ineffective.

In the case of climate change deniers, however, I do sometimes get angry. Some politicians accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from oil and coal companies and then deny that climate change is occurring. They publicly make fun of the science or state that the results are inconclusive. Well, that’s not true and in the United States, our current efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are woefully inadequate. Our inaction to slow the climate changes we are already experiencing will affect my kids and grandchildren in multiple negative ways. So, I care.

I used to think if I convinced family or friends it would help. I thought if I recycled, burned less gas or insulated my house it would help. It’s become obvious now that individual actions are helpful, but we will need worldwide efforts to become less dependent on carbon fuels. None of us can solve this problem alone and we can’t deny or ignore it any longer. Our nation and the rest of the world needs us to work together on this now.

The Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) is an organization that is actively working with Congress in a bipartisan way to address climate change. About 120,000 individuals have formed 504 chapters across the world. They have a plan that will create jobs, decrease our dependence on carbon burning fuels, and help minimize the costs of switching to renewable fuels. Rather than argue with the deniers or throw up my hands in frustration I decided to join CCL. It has been a positive step for me and I now know I am trying my best to reduce the negative effects we are all sure to experience.

If you want to do something to help please visit the CCL website (citizensclimatelobby.org) and join. It doesn’t cost anything. There are no membership dues etc. You don’t have to go to any meetings or do anything else. You don’t even have to tell your family or friends. Your membership, however, will remind our elected leaders that a majority of our citizens do care about this issue and want them to address it. Imagine a million, 2 million, or 10 million voters joining a lobbying group. Our politicians would take notice. Be on the right side of history.

Speak out. Please join and ask your friends and family to join as well.

Michael Van Valkenburg

Fergus Falls


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