I tend to associate climate-change skeptics with either a poor socio-economic background, or entitled rich folks who only care about money.
In other words, I think they are either too broke or too affluent to care about the environment.
I am neither.
I can afford to live in an expensive part of the world, although I can only afford to rent a 1-bedroom flat for myself and my daughter. So I’m not poor, but definitely not rich either.
I have a relatively decent education (Bachelor’s degree in physics, if you must know). Which means I’m not too stupid.
And although I lean towards a humane and tolerant approach to life, I can see the pros and cons in different political views.
When it comes to climate change, however, I’m baffled.
Is the science settled?
Most people around me seem to think that climate change is real. That the earth is reaching its boiling point at an unprecedented rate.
However, a few friends have dared to reveal to me that they don’t share this view.
The skeptics come in many forms.
Some tell me that there’s evidence to suggest that global temperatures are actually dropping. This is probably based on the fact that in recent years the earth did seem to cool down. But still, the overall trajectory of the earth’s temperatures is on the rise, as backed by data from NASA. So I don’t buy these skeptics’ views.
Others, though, are more convincing.
People who agree the earth is warming, but dispute the causes for it.
For example, those who claim that the change is merely a naturally occurring global warming cycle and that it is not much different than other events in the earth’s history.
And that CO2 emissions, that are seen as the main cause of global warming, are in fact only a very minor contributor in the global warming saga.
I’m not a climate change denier.
I’m merely a skeptic.
I expose myself to both sides of the debate.
In the last week alone, I was presented with two pieces of so-called evidence that the other view is flawed:
- An article that explains why solar activity cannot explain the most recent increase in global temperatures; and
- A video set to convince the viewers that the science used by climate-change advocates is skewed.
I’ve been reading and hearing these messages for many years now.
One side claims the other side is manipulating data and ignoring the facts; the other proposes the exact same thing.
There are conspiracy theories galore — on both sides.
And my confusion never resolves.
I cannot check each and every piece of climate research and every study done. And even if I did, I wouldn’t have the ability to discern the credibility of the data presented and the interpretations given to it.
I choose to be honest and say that I don’t know. I am confused.
And to be really honest with you —
I don’t care.
What I do care about is sustainability.
It’s not that I don’t care if the oceans are rising and if catastrophic climatic events will destroy lives. I do care.
But I don’t care if climate change is human-induced or not.
What I find completely devastating is how we in Western civilization are convinced that the planet is ours to exploit.
We don’t consider the impact of our actions on anything outside our own interests. And we are happy to deplete resources. To constantly search for new locations to abuse when we start to notice we are running out of whatever it is we have decided belongs to us.
This attitude, however, is not universal.
Indigenous Australians see themselves as custodians of the land they live in. This means they support the land and everything in and on it.
And according to this article by the United Nations Development Programme, this is true for many indigenous peoples throughout the world:
Indigenous peoples… thrive by living in harmony with their surroundings. Research shows that where indigenous groups have control of the land, forests and biodiversity flourishes.
The difference between the Western and indigenous approaches is stark.
It makes sense: God told us that we are the ones to rule the land. However, the decision to be ego-centered dictators, instead of wise, environment-focused leaders, was ours.
Our population is growing fast. We require more resources to support this growth.
And our standard of living dictates even more resources than ever before: we can’t imagine living without airconditioning, cars, flights to holiday destinations.
So, instead of protesting and expecting my leaders to act, I do my bit to live a life that won’t need to rely on these resources.
What I do, and what you can do too.
I enjoy living in Western civilization. I’m addicted to its comforts as much as the next person. More or less. But I make an effort to live a life that sees the planet as an ally. Not an endless resource that I’m allowed to take advantage of.
So here I am, a climate-change skeptic, who does a few simple things to be just a little bit more sustainable.
I purchase my home electricity from a 100% renewable resource company;
I limit my air travel;
I buy second-hand as much as I can, and get stuff from local freecycling groups;
I wash my plastic bags and reuse them until they start to tear and become unusable;
I make an effort not to buy single-use plastic containers, not just during plastic-free July;
When I do buy new products, I choose those that are made from recycled materials, have minimal packaging, and are made locally.
And I educate my daughter about my choices as well.
My intention is to minimize the exhaustible resources that I consume. And in doing so, I inadvertently lower my carbon footprint.
Not because I am convinced that climate change is real and is human-induced. But because I am mortified by how complacent we are at destroying everything that lies between us and our comforts.
The way I live my life is conducive to reducing CO2 emissions regardless of if I believe their contribution to global warming is substantial or minute.
And I think, even if you are a climate change skeptic, you should do the same.