May 2016 was the 13th consecutive hottest month on record.
Yet there’s a candidate running for President of the United States who has stated that global warming isn’t real, and therefore doesn’t bother addressing it on his campaign website.
Unfortunately for The Donald, and all other living things, whether they “believe” it or not, climate change is really happening. Coral reefs are getting bleached to death by high ocean temperatures, the tundra is going green in Northern Canada, and the first mammal just went extinct from climate change.
I believe the phrase “climate crisis” is more accurate than just “climate change.” The latter sounds more gradual, easier to deal with. While there is no doubt that global warming has been gradual, it is now advancing at an alarming pace. We are in the throes of a crisis.
My passion for environmentalism took off last year when I became a vegetarian. A friend had suggested some good documentaries on Netflix, and I watched several about the effect of human diet on the environment. I was startled to discover how detrimental animal agriculture is to the planet. When I started telling people I don’t eat meat or fish, the most common response was, “Wow, good for you. I could never do that.”
This is exactly the type of defeatist mentality that’s killing the planet. Most people simply will not consider the inconvenience of changing even one regular habit in the short-term to improve their life long-term by helping to save the environment.
What is the fundamental issue that’s gotten us into this mess? Every day we’re told it’s the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and a high global demand for animal agriculture. But if you step back and take a wide-angle view, you discover that humans are just unwilling to accept that global warming is a real threat to them and that they are causing it.
Dr. Andrew Weaver, professor of Earth Science at the University of Victoria and leader of the Green Party of British Columbia, says that people don’t realize the urgency of climate change, and that a basic shift in our thinking is “extraordinarily significant” if we’re going to properly stop it.
“What one has to recognize is that [climate] change isn’t something to fear; rather, it’s something to embrace. It breeds new innovation. But it also means some existing technologies will have to go—the gas-powered car, for example.”
He says that we can help the environment by creating more demand for locally sourced, organic foods and food with less packaging. He also says that voting is vital.
“If this is an issue that most politicians believe there are votes in, then they will respond accordingly.”
The annoying thing about climate change is that it’s just going to keep getting worse even while we pretend that it isn’t a real or immediate danger to us—even while we desperately wish it would just go away.
My uncle was telling me about how this was the first winter in 20 years that he hasn’t been able to use his Ski-Doo in the woods behind his cottage in Ontario because there wasn’t sufficient snowfall.
“It’s not because of anything environmental though, I’m pretty sure. It was just an off year,” he told me with a concerning confidence.
Excuses like this are how we shield ourselves from having to deal with what Al Gore called the inconvenient truth. We just really don’t want to take the blame for ruining the only planet we have to live on.
Let’s face it: the first step everyone can take, before implementing new policy or signing any more landmark multi-nation agreements, is to step away from that beef burger, start weaning yourself off your dependency on plastic bags and stop leaving your bathroom window open if the heat is blasting. It will only hurt for a moment, but the pain of a climate crisis will last forever.
For more, check out these Netflix documentaries: Cowspiracy; Forks Over Knives; Hungry for Change; Bag It; Blackfish; Fed Up and Tapped (available on YouTube).
Author: Kiki Cekota
Image: The Value Web/Flickr
Editors: Nicole Cameron; Emily Bartran