I watched a documentary recently about global warming, one that I believe was called Before the Flood. The documentary was released in 2016, and discussed proof that the climate was changing, and that these changes were a result of human practices. Now, quite a lot can happen in the span of three years, but I’m pretty sure we had undeniable proof of global warming well before 2016. It surprised me that, at this point in time, we are still being presented with proof that global warming is a real problem. At this point, it seems like that ought to go without saying; those who don’t believe global warming is caused by humans don’t have the credentials to back up that claim, and ought to be ignored.
What I found particularly interesting is that the documentary also focused on the technological advances scientists are making to not only reduce emissions but to go one step further by reversing them. It wasn’t just a doomsday film. It was something of a call to action. I started to think… why have we done so little to halt climate change, despite knowing for so long the catastrophic events that would follow?
The source of the problem goes back, I think, to when I was a lot younger. We were told reduce, reuse, recycle in such a fervor, it became something of a mantra. It made us conscientious of the footprint we were leaving, the damage we were causing. The way they taught us about global warming, the issue would resolve itself if only the everyday person became more aware of how much electricity they were using, how much plastic they were throwing away, or how much they cared about the poor little ducks and turtles who got caught in oil spills or stray plastics. But the issue didn’t resolve itself, because the issue wasn’t with the everyday person. Rather, it was with the companies more worried about their profits than they were about negative effects that would only be seen ten years down the road, effects that couldn’t even necessarily be tied directly back to them.
Now, I would hope most people believe in climate change. Most people are relatively worried about it. Yet they don’t know what to do about it. The average person can reduce, reuse, recycle, but it won’t make much of a difference, will it? Not when such a large portion of emissions can be traced back to the corporate sector. And, yes, we can boycott the companies who don’t seem willing to do their fair share, but that’s hardly practical with a problem of such a large scale.
It’s like this with other issues, too: the general racism and sexism that has only seemed to grow in these past few years, the vastly troubling election of Donald Trump and people’s unwillingness to impeach him, the camps of children being denied basic living conditions. On and on it goes. There are so many problems that need fixing, with no practical way for the average person to work towards fixing them, that it leaves most people feeling like there’s literally nothing they can do. Or that it’s not worth trying to do anything, because what’s the point? We’re losing faith in the power of the people, and, to be honest, after Trump was elected despite the fact that he did not win the popular vote, I don’t exactly blame them.
Although I have little knowledge about things like global warming or corrupt politicians, I do know that the best way to instill motivation is to get a game plan. While summits have been held around the world to come up with such plans, the United States has notably left itself out of them. We’re not doing enough. Either way, if we want to actually have a world worth saving, we need to take that proactive ideology with the summits and apply it to more than just climate change.
In order to create worthwhile communications, America has to bring together their most knowledgeable people on each subject, and have them determine a plan that is both big—as in, what our own government and the corporations need to do in order to fix the problem—as well as small—as in, what everyday citizens can do both to hold the higher powers accountable for their responsibilities, as well as what the citizens can do just to help in the effort at home. Nothing brings people together like a fight, but this time, we’re not fighting against a group of people. We’re fighting intangibles that, in the end, are far more dangerous.
Obviously, coming up with a single plan will mean there’s going to be conflict as to which is the best plan. People are going to hesitate, knowing that positive change will require personal sacrifice. As long as this master plan takes into consideration both what is needed and what is feasible, the layers of accountability will vastly increase the chances of success. And, at this point, I think we all need a bit of a win.