Saving for college, keeping them healthy, making their teeth straight, chauffeuring them to activities, parties, and competitions and so on and so forth–the time and money spent on raising our children is a labor of love and has always been worth it. But what about now? How can we justify those expenses when we are on a crash course with annihilation if we don’t turn the corner on climate change? Should we start shifting our energy to battling climate change, battling climate skepticism, reducing our carbon footprints, political action and advocacy? All of those things cost time and money that as parents we spend on our kids, but what if our kids have NO FUTURE? Wouldn’t our time and money be better spent on ensuring they have a future?
These are the questions an (overly) rational parent begins to ask in this moment of impending climate doom.
If you are an (overly) rational young person, you too will be asking similar questions about the time and effort you spend in preparing for a career, in building a future with a lover, in saving money to buy a car or a house or start a business. You too must wonder if you should put it all on hold, somehow, and fight for YOUR FUTURE.
Looking soberly at the reports of the scientific community, the most rational response to the current unprecedented situation is to drop everything we can and bring LASER FOCUS to FIGHTING FOR OUR FUTURE.
Climate Change is a Downer
You may have flirted with such ideas or fantasized about being more active, but what if we really began to do this with all the available time (I’m assuming people keep doing what they do to pay the bills). Those of us who have experimented with climate “activism” have probably found it a lonely frustrating vocation. If you’ve just broached the topic you’ve found just how devastating climate change is to a conversation. If you are speaking to (inactive) allies, climate talk elicits muted assent, along the lines of “Yep.” And the conversation typically ends. If you are speaking to a climate skeptic, the conversation can go on quite a bit longer, but almost never leads to any progress. You’re left with some combination of feelings of annoyance, disappointment, frustration, anger, disbelief–all emotions we can’t get enough of, right? Wrong, climate change is a downer and our social lives tend to benefit if we keep it off the table. So….how do we do this!?
I’m Sure Abolition, Civil Rights, and Women’s Suffrage Have all Been Downers
Downers, that is, for the groups threatened with radical change. That’s why broad-based social movements and mobilizations have been required to move the conversation forward. Those of us concerned have to get together with other like-minded people concerned for our futures, the future of our children or grandchildren. This has to be the rallying cry: MAKE THE WORLD SAFE FOR OUR CHILDREN. We need to build grassroots connections in OUR COMMUNITIES. Sure, we need to communicate and coordinate at national and international levels, but the vast majority of US need to expend our time and money working LOCALLY. In democratic electoral systems this is where elections take place and has to be one of our points of attack. Public Policy is where far-reaching impacts can take place backed by state authority. To influence this we must become active in our local communities wherever we are. Your representatives, your senators, your MPs, your congresspersons all have local offices where you can deliver letters, news articles, reports and schedule appointments to speak with them. You can also participate and organize in public demonstrations at these offices in coordination with other jurisdictions or not. The local communities where each of us live are the places where the vast majority of us can have the most impact.
If you’re still reading, you are interested in fighting for your future and, especially, our children’s future. Your recognizing the absurdity of saving thousands of dollars for your children’s education only to realize you are sending them off to the wolves unless you fight now and fight hard for their future. So, what do we do? The good news is that WE HAVE SOLUTIONS!
Three levels of Impact
Your Wallet – How you spend your money
The first change is in OUR OWN consumption habits and value systems. We have to educate ourselves on reducing our own carbon footprints. Something we can immediately do is consume LESS BEEF and DAIRY. Maybe you’ve been thinking about doing this for one reason or another, well NOW IS THE TIME to do it with full commitment and the blessings of future generations (for more on how this helps climate change go here). Other steps that individuals and families can take is to drive an ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EV) and power it with renewable energy, most likely SOLAR. Prices on EVs and solar continue to drop and become much more feasible for middle class families. You can also walk and bike when possible and work to make such modes of transportation common. You can make sure you switch to an electricity provider who uses and/or invests in renewable energy. As a consumer you can purchase and advocate for moving BEYOND PLASTICS; there are lots of excellent plant-based plastic substitutes now available. These are just some starting points, check this blog for additional ideas and links.
Corporate Responsibility – Make them listen
Corporations are important because they have a much larger impact on climate change than any individual family. We can influence their behaviors in a variety of ways. One is through the power of our wallets….don’t buy from corporations who deny and work against climate action (I will provide more info on this in future posts). Pressure entities to divest from fossil fuels (see here); divestment was part of the successful strategy to end apartheid in South Africa, it is one of the strategies needed now to weaken irresponsible corporations. The other way to push corporations to act responsibly is through political advocacy and action, which is the third level of impact.
Public Policy – Make governments work for the people
This is where you will have to be more determined and patient because it takes months and years to see any movement in this arena. But don’t let that discourage you. It’s time for all of us to dig in and make our governments more responsive to the demands of climate change. There are various ways to contact and petition governments around the world. In general you have government representatives who represent you wherever you live. There are mayors, city council members, governors/premiers and various state/provincial/federal representatives. There is political power at every level of the system and we should target them all. One way of working for climate progress is, for now, to become a one issue voter: which candidate believes climate science and is most willing to act on it? If there is a particular party that should lead on climate change, insist that they do. Write, email, call, meet, demonstrate. In short, one of the special asks of this moment, is for all of us to become more politically informed and active (More on how to do this in future posts).
If We Want a Future for Our Children We Have to Act Now
It is daunting, it may not be fair, but this is the lot we as parents in this moment have drawn. We owe it to our children to fight for their future. This fight happens on three levels: our individual buying and eating habits, corporations, and governments. We owe it to our children to wage war on each level to make the most happen in as short a time as possible. We now know that we have to cut carbon emissions by 50% within 12 years. This is a monumental task that requires our time, money, attention, passion, creativity, and commitment. Another way to begin making an impact is to support organizations and news outlets who are working to educate and prevent climate change (see list here).