Welcome to 2020, where the country is in chaos, and as we speak our president is repealing long-standing environmental regulations because he knows that the media will not cover it during this crisis. The science is clear on this subject; humans have around 11 years to make huge reductions in carbon emissions before we see catastrophic permanent damage to the planet. It seems that with a prediction so clear and so existential to the human race, it would be a no brainer to go ahead and start making those changes, but your friendly neighborhood billionaire has other plans. The notion that businesses will be able to continue to prosper as the planet crumbles is insane. If you think the global supply chain disruptions due to COVID are bad, wait until major ports go underwater and the shipping industry collapses. Another thing the science is clear on is that the approach of “Do this or we are all going to die” does not work psychologically. You cannot scare people into doing the right thing, and when you try to, they tend to shut down and avoid the topic. So here are my steps to stopping the next mass extinction— not because we are all gonna die, but because it is the best way for us to succeed as a species.
Step 1, Be a Voice of Truth:
There is so much misinformation out on climate change that you could spend hours reading and not learn a single correct thing. If we want to unite together against our common enemy, we need to come from the same place of knowledge. In the words of Chance the Rapper,
“I gave you free raps, that shit sound like free facts
Which is 'bout as common as free Blacks(Read more here).”
In our age, it is clear that “free facts” are not very easy to come by, but it is important that we all operate under the same truths as we discuss the best way to move forward.
Step 2, Keep Talking:
Similar to the point I made about guns (Read more here), we need to have climate change as a top news story on every channel. In my opinion, there is not a more important topic to report on other than the extinction of the human race. Certain people (including the president) seem to believe that since carbon emissions are so low due to the lockdown, we can repeal EPA regulations. Make no mistake— the environmental gains made in these three months will be gone as quickly as they came. As China begins to ramp up production and move out of lockdown, we have seen the smog return to Beijing and the carbon emissions rise to record highs. The same will happen here if we do not take the steps now to bring awareness to the President’s attempt to chop down regulations as Lady Liberty is in crisis.
Step 3, Act:
There are a number of ways to think about our solution to climate change, one being that we need to reduce our emissions and change the way people live. The other is that innovation will be the key to our survival. While I believe that the latter is an important part of it, I believe that people inherently dislike change. For us to come to a real solution, we are going to need scientific innovation to carry us through. There are already great leaps being made in this area, including Dutch inventor Boyan Slat’s ocean and river clean up device (pictured in thumbnail), which has already made enormous leaps in curbing our ocean waste problem. Additionally, there are already a number of renewable energy sources that are cheaper than fossil fuels. The problem for most industries when it comes to using this renewable energy is that the infrastructure is very expensive to change over. In the realm of politics, it is my belief that instead of the Obama era emissions caps being put on companies, the government should be giving grants to companies and industries to change their infrastructure over to renewable energy. Lobby your representatives to act on climate change, whether it is your local board of trustees or federal congressional representatives because every bit of change helps towards our larger goal of true sustainability.
Step 4, Make Small Changes in Your Own Life:
While most people do not have the resources to go out and buy a Tesla, there are a number of things that you can do to help in our fight against climate change. Using less single-use plastics is not only good for our oceans and wildlife, but also helps to drive away money from the petroleum industry. Maximizing your own energy efficiency by changing to more eco-friendly light bulbs can also help. This last one, in my opinion, is the most important thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint: eat less meat. While for many this is a difficult feat, the meat and fish industry amounts to 25% of all global emissions. It is for this reason I have reserved myself to eating only meat and fish that I catch myself. While not everyone needs to go vegan or vegetarian, I think that it is clear from the widespread availability of plant-based options that meatless is the way of the future. Even if it means swapping one meal a week to a plant-based alternative, you are making a difference.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously said during the heat of the civil rights movement, “In Selma, Alabama, I learned to pray with my feet.”. Just as important as it is for someone to worship, it is for them to act. In accordance with loving your neighbor as yourself, I am not alone in my belief that this applies not only to the relationship with your fellow man but also between you and the earth. With all of the gifts that the earth gives us every day it is our moral obligation right that we treat it with respect and dignity.
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