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Climate change is often seen as a major existential issue in the United States, but it has not taken center stage in the political conversation, which is more focused on topics like the economy, immigration, and democracy. The climate crisis intersects with these issues, as CNN’s chief climate correspondent Bill Weir explains in his new book “Life As We Know It (Can Be): Stories of People, Climate and Hope in a Changing World.” Weir recently visited Massachusetts, where beachfront homeowners are facing erosion and rising sea levels while also denying the reality of climate change.

Weir’s recent experiences on the ground covering the climate crisis have taken him to both ends of the spectrum, from the grim reality of the unfolding crisis to stories of innovation and hope. In Salisbury, Massachusetts, homeowners have seen the high tide rise year after year, leading to erosion and accelerated sea level rise along the Atlantic coast. Despite spending $600,000 on sand to fortify their beachside homes, a freak storm and high tide washed most of it away in a single day. Homeowners are grappling with the five stages of climate grief and are calling on the state to provide support.

The residents of Salisbury, Massachusetts, are divided in their response to the climate crisis. While some refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence of climate change and attribute recent events to bad luck, others are coming around to the idea and the warnings of sea level rise in the coming decades. Massachusetts is preparing for a couple of feet of sea level rise above levels from the year 2000, highlighting the urgent need for action and adaptation. The community’s experience reflects the broader challenges of addressing climate change denial and mobilizing support for sustainable solutions.

Weir’s reporting highlights the urgent need for climate action and the complex dynamics at play in communities facing the impacts of climate change. Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus on the reality of climate change, denial and skepticism persist among some groups. The disconnect between scientific evidence and public perception underscores the importance of continued education and communication efforts to raise awareness and build support for climate mitigation and adaptation measures.

The story of Salisbury, Massachusetts, illuminates the human dimensions of the climate crisis and the emotional toll it can take on individuals and communities. As people confront the realities of sea level rise and extreme weather events, they are forced to reckon with the limitations of their resources and the uncertainties of the future. Weir’s conversations with residents offer insight into the various ways people cope with the impacts of climate change, from denial and skepticism to acceptance and a call for action.

Weir’s work serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of climate change with other pressing issues like economic stability, immigration, and democracy. The climate crisis touches every aspect of society, from infrastructure and public health to social justice and political discourse. By exploring the stories of individuals and communities affected by climate change, Weir sheds light on the human experiences behind the headlines and statistics, highlighting the need for collective action and solidarity in the face of a rapidly changing world.

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