Confucius once said that “to love a thing means wanting it to live,” and perhaps that’s why hundreds of activists are participating in “one of the largest coast-to-coast marches in American history.”
With participating individuals varying in age, size and background, one commonality among this mass is the agreement that there is a national issue still needing to become a cultural priority, this issue being an issue of how we’re responding to climate change. Putting their lives on “pause,” these marchers are looking to usher forth both a national and political conversation about our changing and increasingly dangerous climate, but in spite of this and despite the unwavering dedication to this mission, this march is receiving very little publicity.
This isn’t the first time that news outlets have failed to be churned by environmental movements even though we have seen a rise in the culture acceptance that climate change is an issue deserving of our attention. In spite of the fact that “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” it is still true that though the light bulb may be coming on that we need to be treating our environment better, the fact that movements, such as this march, continue to fall under the national radar suggests that maybe we’re not as far along in environmental responsiveness as we probably should be. Perhaps we’re also not responding in the most politically ideal way.
Although it is always good to inspire people, inspiration may not be where we should center all our energy. Even though the best way to get people to do something is to convince them that there is a fire under their skin that should be acted on, after you have convinced someone to act, then what happens? There’s a consensus among scientists that climate change is real and that it is man-made, and where we see the effects of it more and more, are we making an effective use of our time continuing to try to convince people that this is a real issue? We already have an important consensus.
In a report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, opened with the statement: “a changing climate creates pervasive risks but opportunities exist for effective responses.” While this is fair enough, what are the risks we’re seeing?
“Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.”
This a menacing thing to read, especially taking note of the red flags we are already seeing. Vicious super storms, devastating wildfires and droughts that are eating up the West Coast act as ominous confirmations of the fate we’re easing ourselves into.
Yes, sometimes scaring people is important, especially given the urgency that this issue must be approached with, the bigger question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we are legislatively trying to respond to this appropriately. So we are demanding caps on greenhouse emissions, but are we offering up comprehensive and persuading ways to do this? We think big companies should be held accountable to the types of pollution they’re responsible for, but how are we comprehensibly trying to do more than just slap their wrists? Isn’t it more effective to get people on our side with solutions rather than scare tactics?
Sometimes tackling these issues can be daunting with some of these issues seeming to be near to impossible in regards to coming up with very specific, very persuading solutions as to how to make all sides of the aisle happy with a real solution.
Congress, especially, seems to be where environmental legislation goes to die. When we do manage to get something out of the House of Representatives and Senate, it rarely seems to be what we ultimately desire, emphasizing that perhaps the real steps to combating a changing earth must first take place at home — and this might not mean having to walk across the country.
“For those of us who are in the real world, the term think globally act locally could not be more true,” wrote Steven Fulop, mayor of Jersey City, N.J. Where the importance of local government being conscientious of what is needed and how it must be tended too, individual leadership is more important now than ever before, especially in Arizona where the impact of climate change is even being felt in the water supply.
National awareness is important, but we must really emphasize environmental stewardship in our own communities, whether that’s Arizona, the city of Tempe or the ASU campus.
Reach the columnist at Alexis.Gonzalez@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @0Moscwow
Editor’s note: The opinion presented in this column is the author’s and does not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to email@example.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.