I would love to ignore climate change. Love to. The problems and nightmare scenarios are too huge, the solutions too convoluted and unlikely, the attention in our culture mostly just not there. Climate change is a room-darkening subject, an uncomfortable truth that we’ll consider just as soon as we figure out how to pay off the credit cards, a problem that surely we can put off for just a little bit longer (right)?
Please, stick with me through this post. I bet you don’t enjoy this stuff any more than I do, but there is a bright spot for us at the end, and I’ll keep this brief.
The worst thing for me is imagining my children starving. I’ll only spend a minute on this, but consider that climate change is melting mountain glaciers that are an absolute requirement to irrigating huge tracts of farmland around the world, tracts that are essential to feeding billions of people. Without these glaciers to supply water in summer, that land will stop producing food, and there won’t be other land to cultivate in its place. In the mean time, our oceans are changing in temperature and chemical composition as they absorb more carbon, becoming more acidic and threatening shellfish and other essential links in oceanic food chains. Climate change also creates drought, multiplies forest fires, and makes storms bigger to wipe out crops that would otherwise grow to maturity … and while all this is happening, we’re letting our population grow.
At some point, unless we make enormous changes, things are going to start getting very nasty.
Human civilizations unfortunately do not have a good record of facing and reversing catastrophes, and there’s good reason for this: it’s painful to face these catastrophes, so we go to great lengths not to. Maybe we try to argue that they aren’t happening, or that we can’t do anything about them, or that it’s not our job, or that we still have plenty of time.
Yet climate change is happening, we can do something about it, it’s everybody’s job, and time is up. We’re already suffering the damages of a disturbed climate. Let’s stop the bleeding and then see if we can rehabilitate the patient a little.
What will this take? I’m the first one to admit that I’m not expert–at least not at the moment–on what physical changes we need to make. I do know that renewable energy, recycling, reducing consumption and waste, energy conservation, and sustainable agriculture all factor in, along with other parts. Regardless, there are two challenges we have to face no matter what we need to do with our hands:
1. We have to find a way to face climate change with open eyes and uncrushed hearts. This is difficult. It’s easy to ignore it or to be overwhelmed by it. We can’t afford to do either one.
2. We have to learn how to change our habits.
This is where I am an expert. I’ve been studying happiness, habit formation, motivation, and management of thoughts and emotions for years, and I write and speak about those topics all the time. I have a successful blog on all that (with some writing posts thrown in) at LucReid.com. I can teach people how to break old habits, how to form new habits, how to face unpleasant truths without being broken by them, and a lot more.
And now I need to apply that knowledge to climate change, which is what I plan to do here. I could use your help: comments, suggestions of resources, criticisms, concerns, links, support … whatever you’ve got. If you’re working on climate change somewhere, tell me about it so that I can read and link. If you need to know something about climate change, let me know so I can research it and write about it. We can’t afford to make climate change a side-taking issue any more. We’ll either learn to face it together, or it will roll right over us and leave us wishing we’d pulled together when we had the chance.
Photo by Marianne O’Leary