February 23, 2015

The Most Important Thing We Can Do.

climate change, global warming, keystone pipeline, activism

We have two options: do something, or do nothing.

Our future is set to be dire and dramatic—marked by extreme unpredictability, brutal droughts, drowning coastlines, rainforest and coral reef decimation, summer-warm winters, fish-free oceans, rampant wildfire, food deserts, disease, mass extinctions, refugee crises, economic turmoil, starvation, fear and subsequent, unrestrained violence.

(Before you furrow your brow with worried fears of, “Oh no! We can’t let this happen!” understand that it is already happening—right here, right now.)

What’s ironic, what’s frustrating, is the fact that “we don’t have to do anything to bring about this future. All we have to do is nothing. Just continue to do what we are doing now, whether it’s counting on a techno-fix or tending to our gardens or telling ourselves we’re unfortunately too busy to deal with it.”

“All we have to do is not react as if this is a full-blown crisis. All we have to do is keep on denying how frightened we actually are. And then, bit by bit, we will have arrived at the place we most fear, the things from which we have been averting our eyes. No additional effort required.” [1]

So yes, that’s one option.

As it stands, we are in an abusive relationship that we refuse to walk away from.

We refuse to pay attention to the broken bones and the black eyes and the violation because they’re easy to cover up with excuses and band-aid solutions. This is fear-based, calculated ignorance. This is our demise.

And for many of us it’s all we know and, heck, we actually like it: The convenience, the lack of responsibility we are afforded, the “freedom” we are grantedwe’re comfortable.

But it is confused and masochistic, and every moment that we continue ignoring the abuse, we literally underline our own death sentence.

Of course, if this were an actual relationship—say, of a younger sister, or a friend—or even the janitor who vacuums the acrylic rugs in our offices at 2 a.m.—

if they were the ones being battered and threatened and we were given the chance to speak up, would we encourage them to wait it out?

Would we tell them that the habitual abuse and poisoning and stripping of freedoms is okay? is just? is healthy?

Hell. No.

Then why aren’t we speaking up? In effect, that relationship is our reality. And the horrible beauty of our situation is that we are both the abused and the abuser.

“The projections are the equivalent of every alarm in your house going off simultaneously. And then every alarm on your street going off as well, one by one…Climate change has become an existential crisis for the human species.”

~ Naomi Klein, Author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate

We will continue to suffer greatly in ways that have deadly and irreversible ramifications if we do not recognize and accept the fact that we have the power to change the trajectory of our Earth’s future.

“Men argue. Nature acts.”

~ Voltaire

Hence, the other option: Do Something (a goddamn, great deal of something).

So where to begin? We must start treating this crisis like a crisis.

This means contacting our government officials, eating much less or no meat, learning as much as we can about climate change, instilling in our children an understanding of environmental and global stewardship, growing our own food (during WWII 3/5ths of the US population—20,000,000 households!—grew their own in victory gardens), using less plastic, purchasing carbon offsets, flying less, biking more, taking to the streets, and most importantly, talking about it daily in a charming, honest and urgent way.

Talking about it at work, at the bar, on a run or bike ride with a friend, at the grocery store, with people who agree with you, with people who disagree with you, on social media, to your grandmother, to the mailman.

We must be brave, be bold:

The state of our planet cannot be ignored any longer, we simply cannot afford to turn a blind eye.

There is no strength in playing small, in slinking away into our lives of comfort and convenience. We need to own our reality, and allow it to stoke the fires of change that burn in our throats and hearts and minds.

Let’s do this.

Bonus, my dream world:


[1] Naomi Klein, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate.” 2014, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York. 566.

[2] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html


Relephant Links:

Our Time is Now.

Divesting from Destruction: How to Fall out of Love with the Fossil Fuel Industry.

17 Recent Environment Headlines to Blow your Mind.


Author: Emma Ruffin

Photo: Author’s Own

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