An election outshines the global climate crisis. An abortion debate outshines the global climate crisis. A feminist movement outshines the global climate crisis. A gun rights debate, a BlackB LivesL MatterM movement, a pandemic… every issue under the sun is able to outshine the global climate crisis, but why is this the case? Why does our flaming planet keep getting put on the back burner?
Despite worldwide recognition of global warming’s legitimacy, people and government bodies have fallen into a cyclical pattern of ignorance and outcry. And the Earth suffers for it.
We begin in the phase of ignorance, during which society converses over a particular problem for about a month. When the topic comes to a lull, heads will turn to the remaining issue on the table… the climate. At this point, the outcry phase has begun. “Save our planet” posts appear on social media as people suddenly become passionate about ocean pollution and emission elimination efforts. This chatter will eventually diminish, and society will re-enter the ignorance phase, debating a new, seemingly more prominent issue.
Now this is not to say that non-climate conflicts are insignificant. Our world should definitely be fighting to solve other problems that transpire regularly, but society does not need to abandon the climate crisis when addressing other pressing issues.
Unless we break free of the ignorance and outcry cycle that promotes climate abandonment, rising sea levels could impact one billion people by the year 2050. Weather patterns will also become dangerously more frequent and severe, the World Wildlife Fund says.
To prevent these futures from becoming a reality, I must introduce the three culprits of the ignorance and outcry cycle.
First, meet Technology.
Both a friend and foe to the climate crisis, technology has reached a point where everything happens in the blink of an eye. One click, one tap, one type — few people have to wait for what they want. As the climate crisis is continuous, gradual, and hard to follow, technology has made many lack the attention span necessary to track such a concealed issue.
Next, meet Instinct.
At the end of the day, we are animals. When in visibly immediate danger, we have an instinctual fight or flight reaction. However, this ‘see it to believe it’ mindset is exactly why climate change seems so distant. Those that don’t live in fire prone areas cannot easily see the effects of the climate crisis with the naked eye. And of course, no human can see the 416 parts per million of carbon dioxide floating in the air.
Finally, meet Herd Mentality.
The ignorance and outcry cycle thrives on herd mentality. For example, in February, when the outcry phase started to dull, and the coronavirus started to affect more people, the herd’s attention began to shift towards the ensuing pandemic, entering the phase that leaves the climate crisis behind.
So technology, instinct, and herd mentality have let humanity forget about its self-caused, self-destructing climate problem. However, the climate crisis doesn’t have to be forgettable. As the world focuses on the pandemic, we can fight the climate crisis simultaneously.
Climate solutions already exist. Wind, geothermal, solar and biomass are renewable energy options that can replace nonrenewable sources. Plastic waste can be turned into roads, buildings, textiles and more. Seaweed wrappings can even replace plastic packaging. Institutions should adopt these planet protecting options, and there are simpler ways people can make a difference everyday.
If you have the ability to make your lifestyle better for the planet, do so. Months ago, I saw a statistic that said going one year without beef saves 3,432 trees. While the source of this claim was not present, the evidence is out there. The Yale School of the Environment, for example, stated that cattle ranching accounts for 80% of deforestation rates in the Amazon region alone. So I, a lover of steak, made the decision to forgo red meat consumption — no regrets. You could do this, or even better, go vegan.
Only shop at eco friendly clothing stores. Connect aerators to sink faucets. Use reusable shopping bags, reusable water bottles and washable face masks. Drive an electric vehicle, bike, use public transportation or walk places. Compost food to lower food waste decomposition emissions. I’m constantly working to implement these climate saving strategies into my everyday practices. That is all I ask of anybody else.
Saving the climate is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle that we can adopt right now. Do this by straying from the herd as it follows the ignorance and outcry cycle. Make the outcry phase every phase. Take action against global warming at all times. Big or baby steps — they all make a difference. Humanity created and continues to create this climate problem, now it is time to hold humanity accountable.