To those of you who still think climate change is a hoax: Goodbye, Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, Sayonara, however you want to say it; the rest of the world is moving on. Every argument needs its skeptics, and you’ve played your part. The science is sound, the people have spoken, and the impacts are real. For whatever reason, you have decided to vehemently deny man-made climate change. I doubt you will ever change your mind. Extreme weather events, mass extinction, deforestation, rising sea levels, horrific air pollution, the list goes on and on; have done nothing to convince you. I’d like to think that someday you’ll regret your position, but the civil rights movement didn’t reduce the number of confederate flags did it?
It’s time to move on from the so-called “debate”. If an overwhelming majority of people know the risks associated with climate change, why are we still wasting so much time trying to convince the remaining few? A skepticism crusade, no doubt oil-funded and corporate sponsored, slows down the process. Congress is wrought with the same funding, the only difference being we call it ‘lobbying’, not sponsorship. Salvation through legislation is not only ideologically unsound, it’s not even a feasibility given the current incompetence, corruption, and hypocrisy that pervades our government.
In any society the true power lies with the people, while in a capitalist society the consumer has the power. The things we eat, buy, and drive all have an impact. It’s time to take responsibility for the world we live in by becoming conscientious about the industries we support when we spend our money. No one is asking you to go vegan or live in a shack; but at least be considerate. You can start right now actually. Consider this: For every one pound of beef, 2,500 hundred gallons of fresh water are used in its production; for every homeless person in the United States, there are over 5 vacant homes; and for one year’s worth of spending on the war in Afghanistan every public university could have had free tuition with a twenty billion dollar surplus. Our consumption has gone from grossly inefficient to horrifyingly careless and I hope I’m not the only one that’s ashamed. When did we become so vain? What was so great about the 2014 Ford Mustang that made you think the 2011 version wasn’t doing the trick anymore? Why does your morning piss get the equivalent of a day’s worth of clean drinking water while people in third world countries struggle for it every day?
To make a long story short, we’ve gotten complacent. Grow up, go to school, go to college, accrue debt, pay off debt, buy a house and continue the cycle, living the American Dream. While entranced in this vision of the future, we neglect our present and get caught up with this dream; a vision of grandeur, prosperity, and consumptive bliss. With no introspection we lose touch with our emotions. Without our emotions we are nothing. Rather than question the trodden path in front of us, with all its cruel financial implications, ecological devastation, and soul-quieting despair; we punch in at 9 and convince ourselves of a better future with more money, one where we’ve finally ‘hit it big’.
What are you left to do? The destruction is evident, the corruption is omnipresent, and buying products from ‘the little guy’ can add up quickly. Being aware of what you buy is cause for immense change; it’s important to remember that your vote is currency too. When you’re in a representative democracy, you shouldn’t have to settle for the lesser-of-two-evils regardless of what level of government it is. People that complain about the lack of choices in candidates yet refuse to vote third party are like that guy at a dinner party who complains about the food options, then proceeds to pig out and complain some more about how awful it was. If you want to complain, that’s fine. Maybe the funky smelling potato salad and burnt-to-the-crisp chicken kabobs weren’t that great; but unless you plan on bringing a dish of your own or advocating for another host, do us all a favor and complain elsewhere. Aside from a conscientious reprioritization and decline in our consumption habits, civic engagement is the most underutilized, yet accessible, agent for change.
To those climate change deniers, thank you for your skepticism from the onset and ignorance as of late. It has improved the science and fueled the passion for change. The necessity for action has become all the more real, while you continue to ignore scientific fact. To every level of manufacturing and industry, it’s time to be leaders. There isn’t much hope for the oil industry because the renewable-based decentralization of energy will be the nail in the coffin. No longer will people blindly accept your products; there will be a push for environmental sustainability, increased locality, fair wages, and no more externalized costs. You will have to either meet those demands or wither away into obscurity. They don’t make buggy whips anymore, yet we still support a one-hundred year old combustion engine. Perpetuating the past is short-sighted and we need to innovate.
To paraphrase Ben Franklin; there are three kinds of people in the world. Those that can’t move, those that can, and those that do. Apathy is maddening trait to those who are free from it. To those of you on the fence, not every issue is so black-and-white. This is no ordinary issue and I sincerely hope you take a stand on this. To the believers and doers, who know things need to change; they will. Keep up the good work by sharing information, practicing mindfulness and humility in spending, and taking advantage of your privilege to actively participate in your government. The road to a green future is yet unpaved; but that’s the way we nature freaks like it anyways, isn’t it?