Talking about climate change is not doing something about it.
I have spent hours upon hours attending lectures, talks, and conferences discussing climate change, asking what we can do to solve the “problem of our generation.” It feels good. It is simply nice to go listen to some guy who has some authority say some stuff. You ask a couple questions and then you feel like somehow you are less a part of the problem, because “at least you are thinking about it.”
Honestly, I need to stop attending these lectures; I know what I need to do to help the environment. I know that no lecturer is going to tell me something I can do that will benefit the environment without causing me some discomfort, because that doesn’t exist. So why even go? They don’t excite me for more than a day, and honestly they’re just a waste of my time.
Stopping the death spiral we are in will not be comfortable, it will not be fun, and it will not involve cool eco-gadgets nor big new ideas. However, it will involve pedaling in the cold, using a nasty smelling water bottle, and being uncomfortably warm in your house. And it will not relent. It will be merciless.
It will never be easy for me, nor will it for you.Together we will do uncomfortable things, with no end in sight. Much like Forrest Gump, we will start running and we won’t stop. We will deal with this until the day we die. And I don’t need some envi-sci major to tell me why it’s important. I have to do it for the sake of the future. I don’t have to be excited about it.
These talks are designed to make everyone feel good. The speaker feels like they are making an impact, the organizers feel like they are spreading the information, the people with questions seek to provoke thought from the audience or share their story, and the rest of the audience feels like they spent an hour helping the environment. What little excitement is gained is quickly lost over dinner.
Also, I would like to clarify the reasons for a student climate strike: Strike if your school refuses to make positive change. Strike if there are deniers in your administration. Strike if you are doing everything you can and no change is happening. Strike if you are told to be quiet.
Any other situation does not necessitate a strike. In fact, I believe it just dilutes the potency of a strike. Because if you strike when you don’t have to, what are you offering? I believe you are creating a place for people who don’t actually care to seem like they do. A place to get people excited for an hour, and then forget in at most a week. A place to stop traffic (which just pollutes more). A place where people who already know what they should be doing, but still don’t do it, can feel as if they are doing their best; they are not.
No speaker wants to make you feel bad about yourself. No speaker will tell you, “it’s going to be the biggest pain in the neck.” No speaker will tell you just how much making a difference will suck, because that won’t make anyone excited to make a difference.
We don’t need people who want to help the environment, we need people who do. The solution is not in a metal straw that comes in recycled cardboard box, it is in drinking in the same way people have since the dawn of the cup.
All of these talks and gadgets and lectures and strikes are distractions from the long and un-fun process that is making a world inhabitable for generations to come. I know that studying the environment is about the last thing that I would like to do, and thinking of some new magic solution, some feat of engineering, is better left to STEM kids.
I just have to embrace the inevitable suckiness and do what’s necessary simply because I have to. Not because it’s rewarding, but because I literally have to.Share