The ‘debate’ about climate change (or global warming) really gets my panties in a twist. I don’t even call it a true debate because I feel like the science is based on knowledge – years of research, testing hypotheses, replicating studies and a rigorous peer review process. There’s a reason why not everyone is a scientist. In order to pursue the answers to life’s greatest questions, it takes intelligence, patience and an unrivaled sense of dorkiness.
I’m a nerd and when scientists say with 97% confidence that climate change is happening and its anthropogenic, I don’t argue. Scientists know their stuff. I have faith in them and the scientific method. That’s not to say that scientists are infallible. They’re human, just like the rest of us, so they are capable of mistakes. Certainly, as technology improves and time progresses, some scientific theories may also change. It’s just a part of the process.
It’s obvious where I stand on this grand ‘debate.’ To the best of my ability, I try to understand the other side – the climate naysayers, as everyone is entitled to their opinion. Interestingly enough, these climate deniers also seem to have their panties in a twist over the ‘debate’ and they are very steadfast in their viewpoint. Regardless, I feel like “global warming” has been in the news a lot lately, especially with the fact that much of the country is buried under snow or experiencing below freezing temperatures. Naturally, these climate deniers are having a total field day with global warming jokes. “How can the planet be ‘warming’ when we have the ‘polar votex?'” Essentially, both sides seem to be laughing…at each other. And I find that to be mildly, irritatingly funny. Aside from my minor aggravation, I recognize that the real struggle is the complete divergence of opinions – there is no middle ground or bargaining chip. Neither side is budging. At the end of the day, we’re losing sight of what really matters – environmental sustainability and the future. We’re not the only ones that live on the planet, and much to our chagrin, we aren’t going to live forever (although, I’m going to try). We must leave our positive mark and we have to think about the future – as painful as that may be. But, that’s just my humble opinion.
Given this stalemate in climate opinions, my very wise Uncle George has inspired this thought that takes the climate debate out of the equation:
Let’s just say for argument sake that the scientists are wrong – climate change isn’t real; it’s a cyclical event and human activity has absolutely nothing to do with it. Then, if that were the case, what would be so wrong in reducing our overall environmental footprint and just generally cleaning up our act? It’s been well cited that there are a litany of environmental challenges, such as contaminants in our food and water, endangered species, air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels –just to name a few. By themselves, those are big issues that need to be addressed because they affect our health and general well-being, and they have a direct effect on the future. If we truly care about future generations, don’t we owe it to them to be a little cleaner, be a bit more innovative and set a good example? You don’t have to be a climate change believer to be a better environmental steward and all-around better human. So, I ask, what’s so wrong with that?
Surely, it would be great if we all drove more fuel-efficient cars, or took public transportation everywhere, or planted a forest, or ate nothing but locally-sourced produce, but that’s not for everyone, nor is it always practical, so let’s start somewhere small. Collective small changes can make a big environmental impact. For instance, what if you pledge to drive less? This is a win-win because you’re not only reducing your own dependence on fossil fuels (thus reducing your environmental footprint and saving money), but you’re also burning calories. Who doesn’t want to be a few pounds lighter or a tad more fit and a couple dollars richer? No brainer! Secondly, what about if you’re a gym rat? What if you stop buying plastic bottles for water and started using a reusable bottle? For one, you’re cutting down on waste, in addition to reducing the energy needed to produce new materials. Secondly, you’re also cutting down on your fossil fuel usage, as most of these are derived from petroleum. Additionally, for both examples, since most of our petroleum originates from foreign sources, shouldn’t we be weaning ourselves off our dependency on imports anyway? Well, cut down on driving and disposable plastics, and BAM – you’re doing your part! It’s so simple, it hurts.
What about switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs (like compact fluorescent bulbs)? Despite the fact that they are a tad pricier than the alternative, they do last longer, thereby giving you more bang for your buck. Easy! Lastly, let’s not forget the mantra – “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Recycling is becoming increasingly more common and it’s one of the easiest things you could do. It prevents waste, reduces the production of new materials, decreases energy use and lessens pollution (both water and air). It’s a flawless plan!
I could go off on my pro-environment rant, but that’s not the point. The point is that regardless of whether you believe that the climate is changing or not, what’s the absolute worst thing that could happen if you were more environmentally minded? The answer is – absolutely nothing. There is absolutely nothing to lose, yet there are innumerable things that could be gained – a cleaner environment, which positively impacts our health, wealth and well-being. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.