Quit Obsessing About Climate Change? Does What You Do or Don’t Do Matter?
Hi everyone, I hope you had a fantastic summer filled with fun and adventure! Mine has been a blur of activity that’s included a few week-long shark tagging and marine science trips out in the Atlantic Ocean; a month long coastal geology expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada in which we studied everything from marine environments to glaciers; work as the Director of Sustainability for the new Miami Beach Pop Festival (wwww.miamibeachpop.com) and more. Much of the time during my travels I’ve not had internet or much in the way of cell service, but the lessons and experiences have been incredible.
School starts on Monday and I’ve been on campus a great deal in recent days getting ready for what will be a full semester (18 credits), in addition to my work here at The Sink or Swim Project, the Festival, our ongoing climate lawsuit and more. I have a few new blogs headed your way soon but with the arrival of my dear friend Richard Jacob’s own blog post today I hope you won’t mind my setting them aside in favor of sharing his newest, and certainly timely work entitled “Quit Obsessing About Climate Change? Does What You Do or Don’t Do Matter?” as a guest blog:
Glen Hendrix is a designer, writer, inventor, and entrepreneur. And he has a blog worth checking out.
In his A Timeline for Climate Change Hendrix points out the difficulty we have recognizing the effects of climate change because we lack historical comparisons. A scientist commenting on Hendrix’s blog suggests:
“It is because we are right at that instant where you have cracked an egg on a hot pan, and it’s not cooked yet because the heat from the pan has not transferred into the proteins in the egg to denature them. We are living the infinitesimally small second or two before the egg turns white. You are making an observation which is so difficult for people to understand and thank you for making it.”
I wasn’t too surprised when Hendrix followed up with another blog, “Quit Obsessing About Climate Change. What You Do or Don’t Do No Longer Matters.”
Hendrix starts out:
“Quit worrying about going vegan, or recycling, or riding a bicycle to work, or buying a Tesla instead of that Ford F-650 pickup you’ve always wanted in order to save the planet. You’re off the hook. It’s out of your hands. You can do these things if it makes you feel better, but they are not going to change the big picture. Whatever you do does not matter.”
“So tell your children you are sorry for what is going on with the climate, but it’s not their fault or yours. Tell them some bad people made it too hard to do anything until it was too late. Tell them you will vote for people that might help with the problem. Maybe if we elect the right leaders, and they do the right things there is still time.Tell them to study science and engineering so that someday they might help with a solution or figure out adaptations to deal with it. Or you can put that whole talk off for later. I won’t blame you. You are only human.”
Hendrix’s comments about our obsessing were quite timely.
I had just received emails from three friends regarding climate change articles I had sent to them, including, A letter to my fellow boomers about climate change.
• One responded, “I am frightened.”
• Another, “It’s hard not to be discouraged. I don’t know what to advise my kids and grandkids about how to prepare themselves for the future.”
• The third, “My wife agrees we have environmental problems, but that it’s hopeless. I don’t agree and want to go down fighting to the end no matter the end. How do we deal with those who have given up hope?”
We can accept Hendrix’s fatality. We can tell our offspring we’re sorry.
Many well-meaning people have accepted the fatality of our circumstances.
• Too many of us don’t vote since we are convinced our vote doesn’t matter, or there’s really no best of the worst choices. The result is that 29% of us who could vote elected the President for all 100% of us who could vote. And most of us agree that hasn’t been the best result.
• Many of my generation – our “senior” generation – are too willing to say: “We’re too old to worry because the worst won’t happen in our lifetimes.”
But I have trouble with that, with Hendrix’s conclusion:
“What You Do or Don’t Do No Longer Matters.”
That’s contrary to the message Jane Goodall gave us:
“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
And it’s contrary to what Margaret Mead said:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Yes, we’d like to have leaders that would solve our problems; we’d like leaders who are inspiring, moral roll models for us all, not just conformations for extremists.
But necessary change doesn’t come from top down; it comes from the bottom up. It comes from folks like you and me. It comes from concerned young folks, like 16 year old 2019 Nobel Peace Price Nominee, Greta Thurnberg from Sweden, who told NBC News:
“Instead of worrying about how that future might turn out, I’m going to try to change that future while I still can.”
And from 19 year old Delaney Reynolds from Miami, who reminds us:
“My generation must decide whether we want our planet to sink or swim.”
Delaney, a star student at the University of Miami, is the lead plaintiff in Our Children’s Trust lawsuit, Reynolds vs. Florida.
Some three decades ago, Bruce Courtney wrote a book about these sorts difference makers: “The Power of One,” which became a great movie in the late 1990s. It’s still available on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Time.
The film closes with our hero challenging us:
“Changes can come from the power of many, but only when the many come together to form that which is invincible . . . The power of one.”
So, decide what kind of difference maker you want to be.
What you do or don’t do matters.
Choose. You can come together as part of the invincible POWER of ONE!