The Mind of the Dismissive: An Environmental Awareness Story
One day after school, I was sitting on the porch with my friend Eric, we were sitting on the porch swing, and Eric had an annoyed look on his face. “What wrong,” I asked. He sat up from his sloppy position and began to explain what he was annoyed about, “It’s the summary we have to write for class on that stupid environmental documentary we watched. I don’t wanna do it,” He explained. “Why’s that?” I asked. “Because global warming and climate change stuff, isn’t real, and it’s never gonna happen.” His response was shocking to me, what does he mean, the facts are there. “Dude! How could you have such a Dismissive mindset! The facts are there!” Eric looked at me, “Oh yeah? Well prove it since I have such a ‘Dismissive Mindset’,” He said, and sitting back as I begin to explain.
“Ok before I explain, look area you, our community. This is where we stay, where we eat, sleep, drink, play outside, and spend time with our family. It’s a part of our culture, our daily routine, our everyday life. In an article called, Culture is Ordinary, the author Raymond Williams explains this further. In the text, Williams states that “…every human society has its own shapes, its own purpose, its own meanings. Every human society expresses these in institutions, and in arts and learning,”. I gather that William is trying to explain that culture is the foundation of society. It gives us shape, purpose, meanings, and a way to identify ourselves as a whole, rather than individually. I also gather that Williams not only sees culture as the purpose and beliefs of a group of people, but culture can also be something that is normal for people such as their everyday life. For example, William explains that culture can sometimes be a daily routine or an everyday journey. In the text, it states that “The bus stopped, and the driver and the conductress got out, still absorbed. They had done this journey so often and seen all its stages. It is a journey, in fact, that in one form or another we have all made…”. Here William explains that the workers go through the same journey every day, it’s their daily routine, their culture, that gives them their purpose to society. That’s why Williams says, “culture is ordinary” because it’s our version of normal, or everyday routine.”
Eric looked at me strangely, “So what does this have to do with global warming and the environment?”
“I’m getting there,” I said, “To answer your question, our culture, our routine, our everyday life, it’s important to us, it’s a part of how we live. But we can’t live in our community if people degrade them and the atmosphere our it.”
“What’s ‘Degrade’ mean?” Eric asks.
“Degrade or Degrading is when you tear down or make less of something. For example, Soil Degradation, which is another factor in global warming, along with carbon build-up. Carbon build-up and greenhouse gasses are major causes of global warming. CO2 and other gases are being pumped into the atmosphere by burning fuels such as oil, natural gas, diesel, organic-diesel, petrol, organic petrol, and ethanol in factories. In the past 50 years, CO2 levels have risen 3% every year. Carbon stays in our atmosphere for nearly 200 years, warming our planet, causing Earth’s temperature to rise. As a species, we cause theses rising of carbon, from air pollution, and using a lot of energy, we increase these levels. Soil encompasses us, it’s all around us, and it’s an important factor in our survival such as providing food for us, it’s also known for storing carbon. When plants and animals die, their decomposing bodies release carbon, which plants and soil intake, storing it. This process helps keep our atmosphere safe, by keeping carbon levels low. But through soil degradation, humans have caused the levels to rise, causing the earth’s temperature to rise. Though this is one factor in how the climate is changing, three authors have also discussed ways from their perspective, on how the climate is degrading.”
“Well, that’s nothing, a little soil damage and carbon in the air isn’t gonna kill us,” Eric said, “What else you got?”
I let out a sigh, “Okay let me think, I said, “Oh this article I read called Testimonies, by Mei Mei, have a few stories about degradation I could give you. In Evens’s article, the testimonies and stories shared provided evidence on how their community was deeply impacted. One of the testimonies shared that her grandmother, who died from urinary tract cancer, owned a garden in her backyard in Memphis. She states that “…my grandmother grew all of her own vegetables…my grandmother had not been in any unhealthy environments, but that phrase- “environmental induced”- was in the back of my head…”. Another testimony is from a Man who is native to Alaska. He talks about how in his culture, they are very hands-on. Their teachings are centered around traditions, so they pass the teachings on from child to child. He discussed that in order for them to keep teaching the environment around them needs to stay clean in order to preserve their resources. But due to the military base pumping toxins in his community, it’s causing a degradation not only in the resources but in the people as well. He states that “In my lifetime there has been a significant increase of cancer on St. Lawrence. We attribute many of the cancer deaths to exposure to toxins from a former military site that remains on the island…”. Between these two testimonies, they prove that different companies and government sites degrade the community and its people. Because of the pump toxics in the soil and atmosphere, people become environmentally induced. See things like this is an example of environmental harm If the communities harm, then the people in them are as well. It affects everyone.”
Eric nodded his head, “Interesting, what else you got?”
“Well another article I read by an environmental activist name, Greta Thunberg, talks about the harmful doings to our environment. She’s around our age group, and she mostly speaks for the degradation of the future. She fights so that me and you or Gen Z in general, have a chance to live and have the resources we need. Greta informs us about Sweden’s carbon footprint and effects on our natural resources. The text, Our Lives are in Your Hands, states that, “In Sweden, we live our lives as if we had the resources of 4.2 planets. Our carbon footprint is one of the ten worst in the world. This means that Sweden steals 3.2 years of natural resources from future generations every year. Those of us who are part of these future generations would like Sweden to stop doing that.” With this Greta argues that no one cares, she argues that the Swedish government doesn’t care, that the people don’t care. She explains how the people that do care, their silence is causing an impact on the environment because they’re too afraid to speak about it.”
“So there are people out there that know about this stuff but aren’t doing anything to stop it!” Eric said with a shocking look on his face.
“Yeah, and there’s more,” I said, “Between future degradation and community degradation, there is another type of degradation similar to the two is identity-based degradation. In Robert Bullard’s article, Confronting Environmental Racism in the Twenty-First Century, he speaks on a topic called environmental racism in the black community. Based on an article at weforum.org, states that’s, “…environmental racism, a form of systemic racism whereby communities of color are disproportionately burdened with health hazards through policies and practices that force them to live in proximity to sources of toxic waste such as sewage works, mines, landfills, power stations, major roads and emitters of airborne particulate matter…”. Meaning that communities are not always equal. If they are communities with people of color and they’re not well kept, they will be neglected, where there are communities that flourish better with more attention from the city. Bullard explained that towns with people of color, and indigenous people were degraded because they were black or native. They were degraded because of their race, being poisoned and injected with lead. This also has a connection to community degradation, because the companies are degrading or affecting the people around them.”
“Wow, I didn’t know environmental racism was a thing,” Eric said, “It’s kind of messed up, well I’m somewhat convinced but what else you got?” I thought about it for a while, I gave him everything I had, but one idea came to mind. “Eric you’re a marine biology major right, and you like to surf?” Eric nodded his head…
“Well in this film, A Plastic Ocean, by Craig Leesson, In the film, he tells us that plastic stays around forever because it’s both in high demand and it is durable. He explains that when the population triples, plastic will increase. Though only a fraction of plastic is recycled the rest gets into our environment, trashing the oceans, and polluting the ground and forest. Earth is our home, our only home in fact and we have to keep it clean and safe for survival. We can’t live in our ocean is filled with trash, because the animals and other creatures that live there get ahold of this trash. Some either eat the trash or some are trapped in things like ropes or plastic soda ties, as shown in the Film. This is using emotions to get people to understand the pain in suffering that we are causing our environment and though it may not hurt us now in the present, in the future it’ll become an irreversible mistake. Also just to sneak a little English lesson in there, it’s called pathos.” Eric looked shocked, “So while you hoped one day to surf and work in the ocean, let’s just hope there isn’t trash interfering.” I explained.
“Wow,” Eric said, “Ok now I’m convinced for real.” Eric looked at his watch, “Well I have to get going and work on this summary. But I will also look at ways to prevent any of this from happening even more than it already is. Thank you for sharing,” Eric gave me a hug and ran down the street towards his house. As I watched him go home, I thought about the fact that I was about to change his Dismissive Mindset, to a more Alarmed mindset. So now hopefully he can help make the world a better place.