Photo: The effects of climate change will spread far beyond the poles and the polar bears. Credit: The Telegraph
Everywhere we look, flashing signs warn that we are rapidly approaching (if we have not already passed) the Point of No Return on climate change. We can lament the media, political dysfunction, or climate deniers, but any effort to “save the planet” is unlikely to succeed without widespread individual action. Even as we call on governments and companies alike to adopt drastic reforms, we must remember that without ordinary people consciously modifying their daily habits in environmentally-friendly ways, the already formidable quest to save the world is that much more dire.
For most, none of this is new information. We intellectually understand the urgency of climate change, are convinced by the science, but are curiously still reluctant to be the mini-champions of small-scale environmentally-friendly actions in our communities. The truth is that even for people who consider themselves socially engaged, climate change is a monster of a topic to get a grip on. Unless you consider yourself an ‘expert’ on the matter — unless you’ve read the relevant UN reports, understand the complex political obstacles to progress, unless you’re familiar with international protocols and treaties — unless you’re A Climate Guy, it can sometimes feel like you shouldn’t be the loudest voice in the room, like you shouldn’t be fighting the hardest. It’s an understandable instinct. After all, there are entire majors, careers, lifetimes devoted to the environment. Hesitancy in demonstrating outrage over climate injustice by leading publicly with our own actions is due in part to a subtle self-awareness of our ignorance of the complexity of an enormous issue that spans politics, international law, economics, environmental science, and so much more.
The Good News is, Climate Change heard our lament and responded!
The Bad News is, Climate Change heard our lament and responded…
There are now, more than ever, so many ways in which the effects of climate change can affect something you care about, something you know about. Climate Change is busting out of the mainstream (but still horrifying) reports of devastation and destruction of natural resources and ecosystems. Care about health? Climate Change will result in increased risk of food and waterborne diseases, worsening asthma, and more. Care about human rights? Research shows a clear link between the global decline in wildlife and a rise in human trafficking, especially child slavery. Care about women and gender equality? Climate change is also a gendered issue, disproportionately affecting women. Worried about security issues? A recent Pentagon report calls climate change a “threat multiplier,” experts link droughts to migration patterns that may facilitate the rise of extremist groups like ISIS, and floods from rising sea levels can displace entire populations, resulting in regional instability. And the list goes on.
It’s like Climate Change said, “Yeah. Try and ignore me now.”
You don’t have to be the Climate Guy to have a stake, to use your voice, to be active. Our stake is that we only get one planet. If that weren’t enough, climate change has barged into all these other fields you might care about. It’s everywhere. There’s nowhere to hide! So why bother trying? Start doing what you can in your life and in your community to save our planet. No need to be the Climate Guy. Just be a Guy.