Climate change, fact or fiction? Well, 97% of scientists agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 which states, “An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”
However, only 48% of Americans are concerned about global warming (vs. 67% of the world).
The climate change debate we watch on pundit, talk-show TV is not an informed debate based on accurate information, but a political debate seeped in self-interest. Those that doubt or reject climate change base their opinion on less than 3% of the world’s scientific community and information provided by think tanks run by people who have the most to lose if people actually start changing their behavior to stop climate change. Then there are those who simply don’t believe science and have a different belief system.
To be honest, those people don’t bother me. While you can argue that they are acting irrationally in the face of overwhelming empirical data, at least they are consistent. They say climate change is not an issue and live their lives the way they please.
My issue is with the 48% of us, including myself, that believe our lifestyles are causing climate change yet continually fail to do anything about it. Knowing something is wrong and not changing your behavior to stop it is at best hypocritical, and at worst the definition of insanity.
I don’t eat industrial meat, avoid everything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, ride the train to work and grow some of my own food in an effort to not be part of the problem. But I am writing this blog post on an iPad I clearly don’t need, have six pairs of jeans of varying style for different occasions, and am addicted to air travel. The hypocrisy is overwhelming.
So, when it comes to the climate, why do I act against my beliefs and best interests? The hard reality is that I am weak. Consuming is all I know how to do. I live in a society where companies produce things and then spend billions convincing me I need to buy them. I want to eat a locally produced hamburger, but I have no idea how nor the resources to raise a cow and slaughter it. And damn, that Big Mac looks so good and is so easy to get. I’m hungry, it’s late and my blood sugar is crashing so screw it, I’m going for what is easy. Super size me!
But there is only so much self-flagellation on can do in the system we live in. Our wonderful, free-market, consumer-driven society is built on consumption. If we don’t consume, markets will crash, jobs will be lost, and the economy will fail, or so we are told. The reality is that I could never drive a car, eat local, install solar on my house and still produce more carbon than is good for the planet. Emissions and waste are hard-wired into the fabric of our lives. So they key is trying to see how our lifestyle is wasteful. What are all the things we do without thinking that are wasteful so we can start thinking about them and changing our behavior and change the system.
This leads us to the ultimate question: how do we create a new system, because the old one is unsustainable at its core? Let’s start with those things we do without thinking because we want them so badly or because it will make us cool. Help me out. What do you do and feel guilty about?