An issue that needs warming up to
Over the past few months, there has been much press time devoted to the issue of national health care. While I believe that this is an important issue and that national health care is in need of a makeover, this article is not about health care. This is about something that is, in fact, much more important – the environment.
According to an Aug. 10 New York Times article titled “Climate Change Seen As Threat To U.S. Security” by John. M. Broder, I shouldn’t despair – at least some portions of government are giving time to the environment. Apparently, studies at the National Defense University have finally taken into account what scientists have been saying for decades – that global climate change is happening, and it will have profound effects of the world. Thanks NDU for finally getting on board. The article goes on to discuss how areas like “sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia” will be unstable. If you look at those areas and then compare them to what is generally defined as the ‘Muslim World,’ you will see a striking correlation. A double whammy, adding insult to injury. Not only has the Department of Defense finally decided that we haven’t all been raving for years, but now they are using that very information to insinuate that we need more military to protect ourselves from, and offer “assistance” to the areas previously mentioned.
As I often do, I checked out the comments section to see what my fellow citizens thought. Now, it’s important to note that The New York Times is by no means a cross section of society. Catering to mostly elite, mostly liberal, mostly white readers, they are too limited to be called the voice of the people, but they are the voices of some people – presumably elite, liberal and white. I was curious to see their responses, as they are often one of the only groups whose voices are ever heard.
Three people out of the first 10 either denied climate change was happening, or dismissed it as “no biggie.” And here I was pretty sure that we all had agreed on the facts, just not on the response. True, the name global warming is a little confusing when temperatures over the summer have sunk to a record low – which is why I prefer ‘climate change.’ What is currently happening to our climate is not limited to warming, though that is the overall trend. In some places it will cause deserts, in others rainforest, snow may fall where it never has before. Western Massachusetts may look more like Oregon.
Severe weather is likely to become common fare as global warming worsens. The contrast between those denying the effects of climate change and those living with them is stark. Such a disconnect between facts and opinion can be deadly.
The fact that some people still consider global warming to be a hoax – a left wing conspiracy – is frightening. Refuting the facts at this point does not portray the naïve ignorance of the uninformed, but a stubborn refusal to accept the truth.
That ignorance will prove to be our downfall if it prevents us from taking seriously the issue at hand. Though to some extent, I can rationalize the apathy of a generation which will not be alive to see the effects of their actions. By that same reasoning, I cannot comprehend the apathy of the present generation. It is our actions that can break the cycle of pollution, exploitation and destruction.
Obama has proven to be disappointingly lackluster in terms of environmental policy. Instead of the change he promised, we have a new policy riddled with loopholes for corporations to jump through. The fact is, without a planet to support us, it isn’t going to matter if there’s a public option, or what the deficit is. It won’t matter if we are attacking countries for the right or wrong reasons, or even if there are countries. If our environment ceases to be able to support life as we know it, it’s going to make all the socio-economic-political problems of the day moot points and the actions taken to protect corporations, to preserve profits, will seem very hollow.
We should be investing in alternative energies, in sustainable development. We should view environmental challenges as opportunities for alleviating some of our economic and health woes. How long are we going to sit idle and wait for somebody else to take action? Realize that if the government won’t take action we still can. Little actions add up, we can all have an effect. Live sustainably, boycott companies that contribute to the problem, lobby for real change and not lip service. Apathy is the ultimate act of selfishness.
Kathleen Broadhurst is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.