There are days when I really just want to go back under the covers. This morning in my inbox, an article arrived courtesy of my dad, who teaches environmental science and therefore tends to send along really depressing topics (just kidding dad, love you!): “The Planet Just Had Its Warmest September on Record“, containing further uplifting information, such as the fact that this follows on the hottest May and August on record.
I refuse to weep, although that was my first reaction on reading the article. But no- crying is pointless. Getting mad is pointless. Getting active, however, might just make some small difference. So I took this fact and sent it forward to my representative and senators today in the following letter to ask them how they are going to show us the leadership and strength needed to change these headlines, to move us from breaking temperature records to breaking records on the most alternative energy projects installed, or the most gallons of fuel saved through public transit investment. THOSE are the records we should be breaking in this country.
There’s a lot of really, really crappy news out there with respect to climate change. Burying our head in the sand isn’t the solution. Read it, but do not weep- use it to empower your conversations and demand change. Here’s my letter- will you write one too? Feel free to use any of mine you like.
My dad is a professor of environmental science. He’s teaching a course on climate change, and today he sent me the following headline from the news, “The Planet Just Had Its Warmest September on Record,” which follows on the heels of record-breaking May and August.
How do you respond to this?
When I share this news with my friends and family, most of them sigh and say something along the lines of “it’s so depressing”. And it is. But I refuse to allow that to be the end of the conversation, because we are in control, and it is our crisis at which to succeed or fail.
Climate change is the crisis of our time. Just like our world wars, the Cold War, or the nuclear arms race, it is a global crisis of human making that threatens our collective futures. The difference between this crisis and geopolitical warfare is that in this case we know just what we need to do. And what we need to do doesn’t involve sending millions of people to their deaths, or destroying each others’ infrastructures and resources, or sinking under the economic weight of financing wars. Instead, we need collective action to stop treating fossil fuel companies as if they were an economic benefit and face the reality that they are an economic albatross. The future of our country and all countries on this planet depends, critically and immediately, on a concerted and collaborative shift to conservation and green energy. We can do this by taking steps including pricing carbon to internalize costs; by investing in public transit and subsidizing alternative energies and technology to bring them rapidly up to speed; and by a sea change in the way we build and retrofit our homes and businesses. These steps are achievable if we stop continuing to subsidize the status quo and make the changes necessary to create an energy future on which we can all thrive.
But if we DON’T do these things, if we do not act immediately, concertedly, and rapidly in our own interest- we will be heading down the path of war. We will be heading to economic destabilization, resource depletion, disease and famine. We will be heading on a path that leaves no meaningful future for my daughter or your children or grandchildren. We cannot afford not to act. And if our political leaders do not act, if they continue to feed us the pacifying comments of “this is complicated” and “it’s a huge problem” and “China is the problem” while they continue to dole out billions in subsidies to the fossil fuel companies – well then, I don’t know how I can expect my friends and neighbors to act differently.
Please, I am asking you from the bottom of my heart- lead on climate change. Lead us down a path to energy security and diversification that is not based on boosting the bottom line of polluters, but in supporting energy independence and technologies that do not contribute to our worsening climate crisis. Take the momentum generated this fall by the UN climate summit and the People’s Climate March, and act on it. I want to see us break records for the number of solar and wind farms we are creating, or the millions of gallons of fuel we are saving with public transit—not the number of temperature records we are setting.