Today I want to address something that has been bugging me since I came back from studying abroad in Denmark. Why aren’t we doing more to stop climate change? Most people I know would admit that climate change is real and that we should be doing something about it, yet very few actually incorporate sustainability into their lives. I feel like in today’s society a person is considered environmentally conscience if they recycle, have a reusable water bottle, or turn the lights off. But those are things every person should be doing at this point. We have known about climate change for decades. We know that if we don’t make serious changes, our world will be a much different place for our children. So why is it so hard to get people on board with the green movement?
There are still some people out there that don’t believe climate change is really happening. Others believe that climate change might be real but humans are not the cause. Here is a great video on how to deal with these people.
2. Mistrust and uncertainty
There is another group of people out there that are skeptical about climate change due to mistrust of the government and anything associated with it. Because climate change mitigation is expensive and will require huge changes in our daily lives, some believe it could have possibly been created by the government or associated scientists to limit peoples’ freedom and rights. While I sympathize with these people slightly more than the climate change denier group, I don’t see how you can be skeptical (even if you hate the government that much) with how much research we have, proving that climate change is real.
I went to a small public high school and learned a lot- math, biology, history, English, music, etc. You know what I didn’t learn about in high school? The environment. Environmental science still isn’t a required subject in all middle school or high school schools around the nation. How are we still messing that one up?
Simply put, it’s hard for us to change our way of life and do things we wouldn’t normally do just because it might help the environment. Even I struggle with this. Going out of our way to be sustainable isn’t always easy and for some it isn’t worth it.
5. Lack of control
This is probably the one reason I can relate to the most. People think that even if they do everything they can in their daily lives to be more sustainable, it won’t make a difference. A lot of people believe that even if everyone recycled and saved energy and conserved water, it won’t be enough to stop climate change.
6. Underestimating the risks
I personally think that this is one of the biggest reasons people don’t take action against climate change. Climate change is a hard concept to grasp because it is so long-term. Our actions have very little consequences now, but will have major consequences in the future. People are inherently bad at making changes in the present that will benefit them in the future. A few examples: saving money, eating healthier, exercising more. We don’t take future threats as seriously as present ones. Because climate change happens so slowly, we don’t notice or feel its effects in our daily lives. We fail to think of it as an urgent problem. And finally, people don’t realize how bad it is going to be. I feel like people don’t understand that their very way of life will no longer be an option. With a lack of fresh water, food. With cities and towns completely engulfed in water from sea level rise. When severe weather storms hit. I’m not being dramatic. These are just a few of the effects of climate change that 97% of scientists have stated to be inevitable.
Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017