This issue may be one of the most pressing concerns that our world faces. Its impact reverberates across economic, environmental and social lines. While some may disagree on the solutions, science has proven that the problem is real, and we need to find a collaborative way to address it.
In a 2010 national poll, the Pew Research Center found that 63% of Americans were concerned about climate change. In 2015, Pew found that number had risen to 69%. Additionally, in 2011, the American Psychological Association issued a report on the issue of climate change and the mental health effects of actual and perceived climate change. The report found that as world temperatures rise, we can expect rates of violence to increase, and even the mere threat of climate change generates emotional distress and anxiety. While some may argue the politics on this issue, it is clear from the research that it touches all of us in ways beyond just the temperature outside.
The question that we need to focus on is how does addressing this matter impact our state and our nation’s ability to balance environmental stewardship, without diminishing economic output. So, is economic growth truly the enemy of saving the environment? I don't think it should be. We can legitimately make the argument that rather than being at opposite ends of the spectrum, the two are intertwined and can lead to greater prosperity for our state and nation as a whole if we seek a balanced response to this issue.
Expounding on this thought leads to a further conversation about climate change and its effect on the environment, being linked to our growth as human beings. Let me explain. In my opinion, we must all understand that regardless of our politics…or spiritual beliefs…or even if we do not ascribe to any of the aforementioned, we are stewards of this, our shared planet with an obligation to care for and preserve it for future generations.
Also, we should not see the call to address climate change as a threat to any one particular industry, but rather a challenge for all of us to create a more sustainable planet. This challenge allows, indeed urges us, to look at the effects of human impact on our energy choices that lead to questions of sustainability and the diminishing of our planet's resources.
The most frightening comment I’ve heard is when someone responds with, “I don’t care because I won’t be around.” It reeks of selfishness and self-indulgence. And it suggests a mentality that doesn’t believe that they are a part of the worldwide human family. I almost feel sorry for that type of individual.
For those who reject arguments about climate change, discarding ethical and spiritual reasons for concern, there is the utterly practical rationale. Nick Stockton, writing in Wired magazine, says the effect of climate change will create an “economic gut punch” after reviewing a recent study in Nature. That study, co-authored by Stanford Professor Marshal Burke, notes that “If future adaptation mimics past adaptation, unmitigated warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by 2100 and widening global income inequality.”
However, if we are truly blunt about the perspective of our lives, our concerns seldom stretches beyond the here and now: ourselves and our immediate family, the ones we know, see, touch and love. How do you love a grandchild, great grandchild or a grandchild five times removed? It’s an abstraction at best and a thought most never even bother to ponder. That is why, whether it’s an economic, political, spiritual or a higher moral sense that spurs you, it is time to act. In plain language, this only works if we work together, both as citizens of the United States and then as members of Planet Earth.
Many people truly care about our nation and those around us even if that belief seems more entrenched as an ideal rather than a reality. WWe recently celebrated Veterans Day, and the service men and women who put on our country's uniform in defense of the American way of life for scores of people they never met or will ever know. Climate change lacks for the moment (thankfully) the emotional tug of combat and war. However, without an ounce of hyperbole, we are approaching a crisis, and it’s time to act. I want my children’s children’s children and beyond to be happy and safe on a healthy planet. And, while I might not know the descendants of your children, I wish the very same for them. That’s my take. What’s yours.