Don’t forget to worry about climate change

gonzalezSometimes I worry that I worry too much. I also worry why others don’t seem to worry at all. Just think about the world in which we live. In a place where there’s cancer, terrorism, faulty governments and adorable Hawaiians who probably won’t text you back, I can’t seem to understand why there’s a minority of nailbiters. There’s more than enough to worry about.

I’m a firm believer that if you’re not scared of something, then you’re probably not paying attention. That’s not to say that we should worry to the point where we begin to cripple ourselves (and I’m definitely not advocating that we all start living in plastic bubbles), but I’m inclined to say that people may not be aware of the magnitude of what happens. We could talk about women’s issues, faulty education systems or even our self-destructive Congress in respect to this, but I want to discuss something that often, unfortunately, garners occasional snickers and scoffs. I want to talk about climate change.

While I know that can be interpreted as a big and melodramatic thing to say, spare a minute to hear me out before I’m completely shut down as a “crazy liberal.” I won’t deny that I may be biased, but I don’t believe there is anything far fetched with this perception. Our secretary of state seems to agree.

 

 

In Indonesia on Feb. 16, John Kerry called climate change “the greatest challenge of our generation.” Yes, that’s our generation, students, and if you thought I was dramatic, Kerry then continued to make the point that “climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

This is a big thing to say. This is something that I’m hesitant to say; however, I can agree that climate change isn’t so much of an issue as it is a crisis.

What most people overlook when approached with the idea of “global warming” or “climate change” is that activists aren’t fighting for you to care about things you may believe aren’t relevant. Activists are fighting for you. This issue transcends a “let’s save the earth just because we want to save cute animals.” Being worried about this issue means being worried about so much more. The “cute animals” we want to save are human beings.

Under these circumstances, climate change does, then, have the potential to be a weapon of mass destruction. But in spite of this, in spite of how emotionally I feel, and especially in spite of the scientific consensus that climate change is happening (and is influenced by people), there still exists a very vocal minority that denies the significance, impact and even, occasionally, the existence of this crisis. How is this so? Is this not 2014?

“A real secretary of state would focus on the real world,” Newt Gingrich commented last Wednesday. “That statement is delusional.”

Now is not the time to sit back and stigmatize or laugh at those who agree with Kerry. Whether or not you’re consciously aware of it, it is very likely that you probably agree with him.

The threat of our world changing for the worst won’t be alleviated until we universally agree that things are happening and that things need to be done. We need to take comprehensive steps to protect what we love and leave behind an inhabitable world. After all, we only have one planet on which to live

At this point in time, it is vital that we curb our carbon emissions. We have been paying for carbon with our health, families and world all without consent. This isn’t fair to us now, and this won’t be fair to future generations. Now is not the time to be selfish.

On Feb. 23, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on “a small but important piece of the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to cut (carbon) emissions,” something Republicans have vocally opposed.

If the EPA’s plan effectively manages to go into effect, it will be a small step forward in favor of Obama’s climate agenda. On the other hand, as noted in a blog post on the Hill, “If the court rules against the EPA, it would be a substantial mistake.”

Through the eyes of us “everyday people,” something such as climate change can easily come across as a daunting issue to try and face. Although this isn’t an easy, tangible thing to organize around, since success and failure is not always guaranteed by votes and bills, these can constitute small victories and impacts can be made by individual’s involvement and attention. Real success, after all, can only come from substantial action and a hope for the best.

This isn’t easy, most things worth doing seldom are, but Abraham Lincoln once said “the probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” It’s a very Atticus Finch approach, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.

There is rarely a time when there is no room to try something. While we may not be guaranteed a perfect future, we have the opportunities and resources to fight for something that is notably worth having. Just make sure that you’re paying attention and that you don’t forget to worry.

Reach the columnist at Alexis.Gonzalez@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @0Moscwow