Global Warming: Why Should I Care?
I post a lot of news about global warming on FB because I believe it is the most critical issue in the world today. It's easy to re-post articles on FB. What's not easy is stopping the hypocrisy in our individual lives and actually doing something on a personal level to make a difference.
I can't stand hypocrisy. If you are going to do something, (or not do something,) then own your actions. Go big or go home. But don’t say you really have concern about the fact that we are quite rapidly exterminating our environment and the future of our species, then insist on cruising around by yourself to work and back, or to run errands around town powered by your gas combustion engine.
Separating your plastic and cardboard from your other trash and throwing it in your recycling bin is not enough anymore. That does not qualify you as “environmentally concerned.” And if you are a parent, or an aunt, uncle, grandparent or anyone who cares about the immediate future of this species, you should be way more than just “concerned.”
You should be downright panicked, like I am.
Because we are not talking about our future generations several hundred years down the line, our great-great-great-great grandchildren dealing with this. We are talking about our grandchildren. The ones you will likely meet, know and fall in love with before you die. These are the folks we are handing off this big, steaming pile of sheer terror to!
Republican? Democrat? Who Cares?
Probably Not Your Grandchildren!
This is not a partisan issue. Your children and grandchildren will not care if you are a Republican or a Democrat when they have to face the impossible reality that we’ve destroyed our planet’s ecosystem so drastically that every region in the world is now being ravaged by severe weather systems.
They won’t even be thinking about politics when their entire city is wiped out by a hurricane, a series of tornados or they have to pick up and move because a severe drought or flood has driven the price of food up so exorbitantly that they can no longer afford to live close to grandpa and grandma, or worse, can no longer afford to feed your grandchildren.
Why Worry? It’s Not Effecting My Daily Life!
Global warming will be the major issue for our children and grandchildren, which means it should be the one thing we are exponentially worried about now.
Severe weather patterns such as flooding, drought, hurricanes and tornados will thrust entire regions with populations in the millions into a state of chaos as these people are being displaced, due to the ravages brought on by these climate changes.
But really, why should you make concessions in your own life just to make sure millions of people on the other side of the globe in Africa or the Middle East don’t get displaced and end up starting a civil war, wiping millions of themselves out? Or millions starve to death because their regions are ravaged by drought?
Who really cares if the uber-wealthy end up with their luxury beach mansions along our coastlines under water in 10 years? After all, you are just trying to get yourself and your own kids through this life!
Who cares if 1 in 6 animal species are likely to face extinction over the next 100 years if a drastic change is not exercised right now?
No big deal, right? So then, you won’t have a problem picturing your grandchildren seeing the very last of these guys in existence (if we are lucky enough to capture a couple before it’s too late,) in an enclosure somewhere with signs below them saying: Extinct. Cause: Global Warming.
How about saying goodbye to this one?
A polar bear stands on an ice floe near Manitoba, Canada, in 2012. Polar bears depend on sea ice, which is forming later in the fall and disappearing earlier in the spring.
(Photos and related information courtesy of National Geographic.)
"Climate change is doing ‘widespread and consequential’ harm to animals and plants, which are struggling to adapt to new conditions,” according to a major report released Monday from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), (1.)
Or how about this little one?
The IPCC notes that the species that will be hit hardest are the ones with specialized diets that are ill-equipped to adapt as their ecosystems unravel. A perfect example? The koala bear who eats only eucalyptus leaves.
Imagine having this conversation with your grandchild:
“Grandpa, what’s a polar bear? What’s a koala bear? Were they ever really here on Earth with us? What happened to them?
Survival of The Fittest Or Only The Richest?
Life is precarious. We all know that. The strongest survive, the weakest die off. Or, in the human species, the ones with the most money survive and the rest of us are often, well…screwed.
We are in trouble. And to bring it home to my state, consider this statistic from four years ago:
“One 2013 study predicted that 82 percent of California’s native freshwater fish species could vanish or reach low numbers due
to global warming.” (1.)
The wealthiest on the planet probably aren’t too concerned about a few lost species. If their grandchildren want to see a polar bear, they will simply buy them one from a zoo and keep it in an extravagant enclosure they build on one of their vast estates. But what about the rest of our grandchildren? Great-grandchildren? Future generations? If you are not a member of the Gates or Walton tribes, or the Rockefeller or even the Trump tribe, and will be able to afford to build a storm-safe, drought-safe, flood-safe, tsunami-safe villa on the top of the world somewhere to shield your offspring and future generations from the ravages of climate change, then you should really pay attention to this issue. Because your bloodline will very likely not survive what we’ve got coming.
The Paris Agreement that most of the world’s leaders agreed to and signed, and that Trump pulled us out of shortly after taking power, was a hopeful and serious attempt to stop the extinction of not just various animal and plant species, but of our species. (Let’s call it what it is.)
“It’s goal was to significantly slow global warming by limiting the rise in temperature to 2 degrees (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That amount of warming will still have a substantial impact, scientists say, but will be less devastating than allowing temperatures to rise unchecked.” (2.)
“The global average temperature has already risen about 1 degree Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels. And even if every signatory country meets its current pledge for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the world is still expected to pass 2 degrees of warming, as the agreement itself notes with concern. (That section is literally labeled "Notes with concern.”) (2.)
So what can you do? And what will be enough motivation for you?
For me, it was this singular thought that motivated me to do something that I thought would be like stepping off a cliff in terms of lifestyle change, but actually wasn’t.
Answering Tomorrow For Our Actions Today
I thought about what I am going to say when my sons, or my grandchildren, ask me one particular question:
“Mom/Grandma, what did you do 20 years ago when you knew about climate change and global warming and knew how severe the impact would be on our lives and our ability to survive?”
This singular question brings me to my knees.
TO MY KNEES.
What did I do? For the future survival of my bloodline? For my children? My grandchildren? For my species?
I made sure to recycle my trash? Not throw my batteries into landfills? Tried to vote in leaders that gave a hoot about environmental issues? Maybe attended a march or two, when it was convenient on a Sunday and in my area?
And how much can I deceive myself into believing that these minute changes actually made a substantial impact?
What I actually did do recently I did for the survival of not only my bloodline but my species and the multitude of extraordinary species I share this planet with.
It is the single most important change I could make, the one that makes a statement while also actually reducing my carbon emission footprint to the smallest it can be.
I gave up my car and my dependency on fossil fuel.
Why? Because carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuel has the single, biggest impact on global warming.
I thought saying goodbye to my personal mode of transportation, my car, a tool and an extension of my personal freedom I have enjoyed since I was 16, for 33 years, would feel like stepping off a cliff.
What I found is that our world is ready and highly supportive of this, so much so that it also makes extremely good economic sense. I know this is not a possibility for everyone, but consider the math and how it worked for me.
From a strictly economic standpoint, there was no question it was the best choice:
Now I can honestly say, without a hint of hypocrisy, I am an environmentalist. I care enough about the future of this species and the ability for my bloodline to survive to actually do something significant for their future. And it feels really good knowing that in the very best way available to me, I’m saving hundreds of thousands of species from extinction!
To be perfectly honest, it has not been like stepping off a cliff. I don’t miss having a car. And I certainly don’t miss the car, insurance, fuel and repair costs!
It takes a little more planning. I order the bulk of my groceries online from Vons, which provides delivery service at only $6 if you give them some flexibility. I take the train when I can, and find it to be extremely relaxing and pleasant, a stark opposite of actually driving through L.A.!
I’m healthier. My legs look great. I notice more things about my local world because I’m walking or biking instead of speeding by in a car.
It can be done. It has to be done. If you are waiting on our political leaders to do something about this looming disaster already right up to our doorstep, you are being led down a primrose path.
If you are expecting our scientists to do something about it, they already have, many times over.
They are screaming out a global panic cry!
Are You Listening? Or Burying Your Head In The Sand?
We cannot keep our current way of living up and expect to survive.
It’s that simple!
If you can’t take such drastic measures as I did immediately, at least start thinking about it. Start asking yourself just how much inconvenience it would create for you to give up the gas combustion engine. And what would be the benefits.
Then ask yourself: “Would a few course corrections in your current lifestyle and way of doing things be worth saving this glorious, amazing home of ours for your future generations?”
Because that is what it has come down to. Not tomorrow. Not in a decade. Not next week.
© July 2017 Elisa Fortise Christensen
(1.) Photograph Jabin Botsford, T. W. P. Photograph Jabin Botsford, T. (2016). The Global Dangers of Trump’s Climate Denial. News.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 31 July 2017, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/president-trump-global-climate-change-denial-environment/
(2.) 2 Degrees, $100 Billion: The World Climate Agreement, By The Numbers 2 Degrees, $100 Billion: The World Climate Agreement, By The Numbers. (2015). NPR.org. Retrieved 31 July 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/12/459502597/2-degrees-100-billion-the-world-climate-agreement-by-the-numbers