What do we do?
Let’s no longer pretend that there’s anything other than a unanimous consensus that human-made climate change is happening. The newest climate projections look devastating for humanity, there’s never been a colder-than-average month in my lifetime, Hurricane Sandy is the new normal, so on and so forth. It’s happening.
But I’ve never found a satisfying answer for the inevitable question that arises when your average, implicated people talk about it: What do we do?
My friend Charlie wrote a wonderful/terrifying post called “Politicizing Sandy” that clears up parts of it for me. He rips away the logical crutches we use to avoid thinking about solutions. He talks about what’s hard to talk about when we talk about climate change, like our resistance to dissolving national boundaries and trying to think as a planet for the first time. At the end, he leaves us not with an “Act now!” message, just with a meditation:
“I would rather you didn’t think of this as an external goal, but as something you bring everywhere – to work, in public – the way you might carry any other serious ethical commitment. The right time to start politicizing the climate is whenever you do it.”
So I do that. I did it to some extent before Charlie’s post made me aware I was doing it. In fact, most existential threats to humanity form a rumbling foundation underneath my day-to-day thoughts, not just climate change. I bring them with me everywhere. Is that helping? I think it’s making me waste less and consume less energy. Is it making me talk about it more? Pass the questions on to others? Perhaps.
How often do you think about climate change? Every day? Many times a day? Does it change your behavior? Do you feel like you’re doing something about it?
Maybe the only reason What do we do? feels paralyzing is that it keeps us from noticing what we’re already doing.