Climate Change Commentary
The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a public post that was shared by a Facebook friend. It had been written by a man I would estimate to be about 50 years old. It was about Climate Change more specifically about his daughter of 15 years being moved by Greta’s Speech at the United Nations and wanting to fight global warming. He went on to talk about how he and his wife would support her in being more environmentally friendly even help her achieve it. The post quickly took on a sarcastic condescending tone. He mentioned how his daughter would now have to ride her bike to school, take the bus in winter or walk places - this part to me was still normal and I did not think much of it. Maybe if I had more context I would have been annoyed by then already - say if she lived an hour away from her school for example. Anyhow, he then went on to say since she is against fossil fuels they would stop heating her room, she would only be able to wear clothes made from linen, wash those by hand, take only cold showers, no electricity and Wi-Fi at night, no cosmetics and so on. Basically, he is so butthurt by his daughter blaming the older generations for climate change that he is sending her back to the middle ages. It was a thought through post considering all parts of her life that would have to change. Really, it was a shame that he then made the mistake to have her throw out everything she owned (apart from the designer clothes which went to the second-hand shop) which is an environmental sin in itself some would argue. I am aware that this post might be satire, maybe it is merely a joke, maybe he means it - I don’t know for sure. But what I do know is that there are people out there (in the comments) convinced by everything he is saying, agreeing that fighting for change is the utter most ridiculous thing anyone could do. And that it is all lies and probably some sort of conspiracy theory.
Frankly, the post irritated me and the issue is not simply that their opinions swayed from mine which I believe is fine and can often be resolved through conversation – if both parties are respectful to each other. What made me mad was the ignorance with which he wrote, with which people commented on the post. If someone does not believe in climate change I can very likely not change that, but I can try.
First off, I am no scientist, but I have done some research and want to say that there are alternatives to the way we are living right now that do not involve time travelling to the 14th Century – most of you probably know that already. The assumption that fossil fuels are the only way to generate energy has been proven wrong by scientists and reality alike. Solar energy, Wind energy, geothermal energy, water energy and more are all realistic alternatives to conventional energy production. Changing our way of consumption is not necessarily a step back but rather a step forward. Even if Climate Change was not real, I wonder why some find it so horrible to thrive for a life in balance with the planet, nature and animals at the very least it would elongate the humans time on earth.
Cars powered by hydrogen, a fair global food distribution and environmentally friendly infrastructures might still be concepts of the future but are not nearly as far away as one might think. Your TV does not care whether it is fed with fossil fuel energy or solar energy and the oven will turn on even if it has to get its power from a wind turbine. That is the beauty of renewable energy: it works. The unnatural increase in global temperature has not been brewing since the beginnings of time but has only happened in the last 100 to 200 years. Who is to say that scientist might not be able to reverse the effects in the same time? We have to admit that in case of failure it will likely not have failed due to the scientists and researchers but due to economic players, corporations and governments that do not support the implementation of new strategies. Now it is up to them to further the Industrial Revolution or start an environmental one.
A popular question that is often discussed throughout the Climate debate is whether individuals hold responsibility to live more sustainable in order to prevent climate change. My thoughts on that are dependent on the situation. I do believe individuals should try and lessen their carbon footprint and general impact on the environment. However, I am aware that it is a privilege to do so. Buying regional and organic food or a 100€ train ticket instead of a 30€ plane ticket is a life many cannot afford. This shows how intertwined social issues are with climate change. To go into depth here would probably allow me to write a whole research paper.
I am convinced that it is the governments and economies responsibility to make the least invasive, most environmentally friendly, and carbon neutral lifestyle the most affordable and attractive. This means making train tickets cheaper than taking a plane or car, making a sustainable and healthy diet the cheapest, creating reliable public transport, investing in an effective infrastructure, building safe and extensive bike lanes and so on. But it does not stop there: the social issues connected to climate change reach far beyond daily questions of grocery shopping and travel plans. Small Island States like Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tokelau and the Maldives could be the Atlantises of the future. The man-made Climate Change is dawning on them, rising sea levels threatening their land masses. They might not drown completely but chances are, they will become uninhabitable in the near future (30-50 years). Rising sea-levels, extreme weather events, coral bleaching, saline contamination of freshwater, increased risk of disease - the list doesn't end there. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are at the frontline of this unprecedented threat and yet they are the least responsible. Most of them have lived in harmony with their environment up until the Europeans conquered the world. This is a threat to their identity, their home and their livelihood. And even though they are proven to be able to deal with many environmental and social challenges throughout history by combining local knowledge, creativity for sustainable livelihoods and tight kinships the Western World should have never been able to create such a threat to their very existence. We know that climate change does not stop at a border, whether it is natural or political, social or economic – Global warming will likely affect all aspect of our lives one way or another.
Maybe we do need a new global movement, maybe the next milestone in human development is an Environmental Revolution that brings an era of sustainability and balance upon us. And maybe just maybe it has already started and who knows maybe it will be led by the daughter of our Facebook Comedian.