I’ve been an active environmentalist for years, but nothing makes me feel more powerless than two words: “Global Warming.” I’m SO done with the debate about whether or not climate change is happening. What I want to know is this: can we as individuals actually do enough to stop it in time, or should we just do what little we can and enjoy the time we have left?
I think a lot of people feel very upset about global warming but do nothing because they feel their individual actions cannot really make a difference. I can understand how someone mostly focused on spending her next paycheck would simply ignore the whole thing; it’s too big and scary to think about.
I feel that way too, at times. I know that growing my own food, owning a fuel efficient car, and riding my bike to dinner add up. I make fewer emissions in that moment, but it’s hard to overcome the feeling that my singular action is less than a drop in the bucket of melted glacial peaks. Even if I add up everything I do, which is a lot more than the average American, the earth continues to warm and dead sea lions keep showing up on my beach. So sometimes, I just ignore my concerns and drive.
The government’s been no help. By heel-dragging for years, the White House has set a terrible example of apathy. If our elected leaders can’t do better than declaring CO2 emissions a health threat, we’re sort of… in deep trouble.
Yet, I also find that taking action – doing ANYTHING – makes me feel better. When my whole family gets out and bikes to dinner, we’re all happier. The simple joys of fresh air and wind on our cheeks give me hope and inspire me to do more. When I resist the urge to buy my kids a new toy and instead offer them an old silky sheet and clothespins, I’m making a difference and my kids are happier than they’d have been with a new “thing.” And since it’s my children who will suffer most from the effects of global warming, it gives me the resolve to keep trying.
In truth, the White House’s recent global warming report indicates that we need massive change now. We need everyone to make significant changes, and I don’t know how to make it happen. We need ideas, and then we need to implement them. And while passing belated legislation to slow warming is key, it doesn’t seem good enough. Do we need to wait for the government to mandate all the changes we’ll need to make if global warming is to be stopped?
So, here’s my challenge to readers: how can we convince the majority of emission producing citizens that we need to make individual change, that every change counts, that every action can be empowering? How do we persuade the masses that we’ll need to make sacrifices, change the way we live, to save ourselves before it’s too late? Or have we become too committed to our disposable lifestyle to turn things around in time?
I’m curious about your responses because perhaps they’ll tip the scales the next time I’m feeling pressured to make a not-so-green choice.