I apologize for the dark analogy, but I hesitate to stray too far from Solnit’s metaphor because, though it is flawed, there is some legitimacy in associating rising global temperatures with being trapped inside of a burning building. The defects in Solnit’s comparison lie in the fact that she fails to address the question of liability and her emphasis on trying to escape does not exactly translate to the reality of climate change. In a house fire, your only objective is to make a swift escape, whereas if you are running a daycare center and a fire breaks out, you are responsible for the safety of the children and you must find a way to protect them.
In this situation, your initial instinct may be to round up everyone and exit the building as you may have learned in training or practiced in a fire drill. This option is more or less along the lines of Solnit’s analogy. Realistically, however, in the event of a fire, the daycare center would most likely transform into a chaotic frenzy of running and screaming children, and it would be nearly impossible to execute an orderly escape. You could try to assemble as many children as possible and leave together, but there is no way of knowing if some have already fled or if they are hiding somewhere in the building. Since it is your responsibility to protect them, leaving is not an option. You are left with no other choice than to confront the fire and do your best to extinguish it. In this scenario, either you find a way to successfully put out the fire, or you and the children perish.
I believe this may be a more appropriate analogy to explain global warming as we are in a situation where, if we don’t take drastic measures to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change, the entire planet may become inhospitable to most, if not all, forms of life. We are in a position of responsibility in this environmental crisis, and it is up to us to act and confront this ‘fire’ so to speak.