The most surprising thing about our foot-dragging on climate action is that many of the changes we have to make are good for us — with or without climate change. Internal combustion engines and coal power plants produce pollution that damages our lungs and brains — renewable energy and electric vehicles are much healthier and reduce the cost of health care. Bicycles are even better because they produce no pollution, reduce traffic accidents and help commuters get more exercise. Vegan and vegetarian eating is cheaper and healthier and reduces the suffering of animals. Walkable neighbourhoods tend to produce happier people than low-density suburbs (although there are definitely a lot of factors at play here — to learn more about this check out Happy City).
Dan Piraro hits the nail on the head describing our failure to act. We know it’s a problem, we know it’s going to be bad, but for now, we’re either too busy or too comfortable to take action. Nobel-prize-winning Psychologist Daniel Kahneman says:
“If you were to design a problem that the mind is not equipped to deal with, you know, climate change would fit the bill. It’s distant. It’s abstract. It’s contested. And it doesn’t take much. If it’s contested, it’s 50/50 for many people immediately. You know, you don’t ask, what do most scientists do? Which side of the National Academy of Sciences – that’s not the way it works. You know, some people say this, other people say that. And if I don’t want to believe in it, I don’t have to believe in it… If there were a comet hurtling down toward us – you know, an event that would be predictable – within a day, we’d mobilize. So it’s not even that it’s distant in time. If it was going to affect our children, we’d mobilize.”
The lesson here is that even if we feel like things are okay, we can’t get too comfortable. we have to keep reminding ourselves that this really is an emergency and that it could destroy human civilization if we don’t take action in 2019.
This depressing little comic teaches us two things:
- Climate change is not something we can address on our own — we need to come together and find solutions in groups — in our schools, at protests, in our governments, within corporations.
- For some reason, it’s always young people telling grown-ups to stop acting childish and take this challenge seriously.