Should we demand action immediately, or be more gently persuasive when it comes to climate change?
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about different environmental issues. It’s always felt natural to me to share information with other people because somewhere in my mind, I’ve always thought that if people were given ways to make the world a better place, they would do it. Sadly, that just isn’t so. Most people are more interested in the latest celebrity scandal than matters that will actually affect them in their day to day lives, and sometimes that includes me.
But why is that? Well, I have a pretty good guess.
In my own life, I’ve gone through what I call waves of indifference. I could only stand to be bombarded with all of the bad news for so long before I needed a break and I slipped back into my old habits even though I knew I was being the exact opposite of an environmentalist. Going to a restaurant and ordering a drink without having to say “in a glass and without a straw please, I don’t use plastic” is so much easier. Buying balloons and disposable dishes for a birthday party without fussing over what they’re made of is a lot less of a hassle. That’s why we do things that way in the first place.
What I’m trying to say is caring about something is exhausting. It can keep you awake at night. It can enrage you when you see people ignoring the issues. And it can be too much worry to carry all on your own. However, it’s important that we get past these initial discomforts. We have to ignore those sideways glances and try to focus on those who understand that we are just trying to do the right thing and not push some strange “hippie-tree-hugger”agenda.
Unfortunately there are also people out there who either don’t care about the problems we are facing or they don’t believe those problems even exist in the first place. For example, I’ve encountered climate change deniers first hand and the feeling is a combination of anger, frustration and hopelessness. I’m baffled by their vehement disagreement with the facts that are presented to them. I often think, even if you don’t believe in climate change, surely you notice the poor air quality or the polluted waters and want to do something about this? Surely you’ve seen the reports of weather becoming more unpredictable and the people who have been displaced from their homes because of it? I don’t understand how they could not want the world to be the best that it can be in every way, not just economically.
Lately I’ve been wondering if the reason so many people close their ears to an environmentalists call to action is because it’s difficult to hear that your lifestyle could be causing such damage to the planet and to the future of humanity, and that the only way to prevent future destruction is to change just about everything you do in your life. From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear and the thing we choose to do in our free time, all of it can have an effect on the world around us. Perhaps if people were presented the information in a different way, it would make more of a difference.
The problem is, we’ve been tiptoeing around the topic of climate change for too long and if we don’t act now, we will face increasingly erratic weather patterns, resource shortages, health issues and much more. This is the double edged sword that many scientists and environmentalists are facing. If we demand urgency, people respond negatively, and the environment suffers. If we give people space and more time to make the changes, people respond positively, but action isn’t happening quickly enough, and again, the environment suffers. What are we to do?
For the moment, I suppose the best that we can do is make changes as drastically as we want in our personal lives and continue to “gently” inspire others to follow our lead. After all, one small change multiplied by millions can make a huge impact.
What changes are you willing to make?
copyright Chantal Shanks 2018