Global Climate Change
Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to live by Ghandi’s mantra: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Passionate about combatting the issue of global warming, I chose to take the bus rather than driving, transitioned to a vegan lifestyle partially due to hearing about how the meat and dairy industry contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and after turning eighteen, have voted in favor of measures increasing protection of the environment from human activity. However, learning about global climate change at the recent panel reminded me that I have become somewhat complacent in my efforts to make a positive impact. While, as a child, acting on a personal level was critical to instilling values and motivation, this event has shown me that it is time to go a step further.
I found the perspectives on climate change elucidated by David Battisti, Jean Dennison, and Hanson Hosein to be enlightening and thought-provoking. For instance, I had never considered the difficulty researchers face when deciding how to approach informing a government about drastic, approaching changes in climate. I was shocked to hear that, in response to learning of a nearing drought, many Brazilian farmworkers were laid off, a latent consequence of the information scientists passed along when intending to help. Similarly, I was unaware of the extent to which climate change has a disproportionate impact on indigenous populations. Just as these people and their culture have been marginalized throughout history, their voices and struggles against such adverse effects are silenced by capitalist endeavors to maximize profit and individuals, like myself, ignorant of the unfair burden these groups are faced with.
In terms of the personal choices and actions I will take to address this challenge in my own life, I intend to start by further educating myself about all domains, which affect this phenomenon. Although I fully believe in the scientific studies published and am aware of the general trends and barriers to reversing them, I am not confident in my ability to fully explain the interdisciplinary aspects of global warming. As David Battisti explained, many activists have admirable values and good intentions, but nevertheless, they often lack an understanding regarding the breadth and depth of factors contributing to global climate change. Therefore, before I dive in and perhaps write articles or become a stronger voice in this movement, I intend to have the necessary knowledge.
Additionally, as future activist, I want to make sure that I portray the issue of climate change as urgent while avoiding fear mongering rhetoric. The world seems to be changing, becoming more complex with every breath we take, and this can feel overwhelming. With challenges as huge as global warming, modern slavery, mental illness, etc… I think it is easy to start feeling helpless. This vulnerable mindset is only further exacerbated by articles shouting that we have gone beyond the tipping point, and there is no coming back from the destruction we have caused, the cycle that humans have set in motion. Consequently, it is critical to reframe the general mindset regarding climate change in order to focus on concrete, practical changes that together we can work towards.
Overall, the moment which struck me most that evening was when the panelists explained that, although it will take international policies and cooperation to truly combat global climate change, the actions of individuals and grassroots organizations send a message, and many of these messages, these dedicated citizens, may be the catalysts for much larger change in the future.