We Must Stop Denying The Reality Of Climate Change

We Must Stop Denying The Reality Of Climate Change

Climate change has become more present in media discourse in recent years, but it's still a topic that's missing from our social narrative.

17
views

Now, it is more essential than ever that we as humans believe the scientists who attest to climate change and speak up in favor of policy intended to ameliorate the crisis. So, why do so many people in America and around the world deny climate change?

It's science 101: debates about a hypothesis can exist indefinitely. It gets even more complicated when you try to separate theory from fact. Global warming is a scientific fact. There is evidence to prove that the world's global temperature has increased significantly in the last century. Anthropogenic climate change is, however, still a scientific theory. Although huge numbers of scientists attest to its validity, it's standing as only a "theory" leaves room for denial and disregard. In a Forbes article, Marshall Shepherd cites a 2011 study published in the Journal of Risk Research asking why members of the public held such strong opinions opposing theories scientists largely agreed upon.

"They find that something called "cultural cognition of risk" helps to inform individuals' beliefs about science, consensus, and related processes. They point out that a collection of psychological mechanisms allows some people to selectively accept or dismiss scientific information in ways that fit with others. For example, though a large percentage of scientists might conclude that anthropogenic climate change or vaccination denial are threats, cultural cognition of risk might cause a person to believe a smaller minority of scientists that align with their perspective," Shepherd writes.

Listen to his TED Talk here.

So, it's psychologically sound for the denial of climate change to be so common. However, we must transform our social narratives to include climate change in order to solve the problem. Without brutal honesty and frequent reminders about the problem, humans simply will not find the time to care about climate change despite its relevance and urgency. We all get overwhelmed with work, school, family, and friends. This certainly isn't to say that people don't care. Recycling rates have been approximately tripled since 1990, according to this EPA information. And plenty of people have adapted their lifestyles to reduce their plastic usage or even to go completely zero-waste.

Nonetheless, the changes in society and policy that are necessary for reducing our impact on the planet are not taking place. Stories in the media concerning the deaths of whales and the melting of ice caps spark fear in many people, yet they're issues that seem distant and unsolvable. People vote for candidates and bills that set us even further back and pay no thought to the fact that those politicians don't see our survival as a priority. Even the 2018 IPCC report's 2030 deadline was not monumental enough to create the broad scale change that we need to see to reduce our carbon emissions by then. Already phased out of the media, the report's findings are hardly present in anyone's discourse just five months after its release. So how is the public supposed to care about the topic when we don't even talk about it on a daily basis?

In order to make policy changes that are imperative to the transition to sustainable production methods and the reduction of our carbon emissions, we must include the topic of anthropogenic climate change in our social and daily narratives. Without constant reminders about the problem and discussions about logical solutions, no change will be made in policy or industry. So, don't be afraid to talk about climate change in any setting, with anyone or at any time. There is never a bad time to bring up global climate change as a real threat and a problem that we must turn our attention to. The focus should be on the big issues; keep climate change in mind as a factor in every aspect of your life and advocate for the planet, who can't speak up for itself.

"We often assume that political activism requires an explanation, while inactivity is the normal state of affairs. But it can be as difficult to ignore a problem as to try to solve it, to curtail feelings of empathy as to extend them. . . . If there is no exit from the political world then political silence must be as active and colorful as a bright summer shadow." — Nina Eliasoph, "Avoiding Politics"

Popular Right Now

Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

22448
views

When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

Cover Image Credit:


Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

FollowVinicius Amano

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Green New Deal Is NOT What We Need, Let's Talk About Free-Market Environmentalism

Let's be honest: the "green" in the Green New Deal is money.

131
views

We all love our Earth. Whether we enjoy hunting, fishing, sunbathing, or gardening; It is all courtesy of Mother Earth. You might not take part in these, in fact, some simply like the ~aesthetic~ of nature. Regardless, this is our planet and we are charged with doing as much for her as she does for us.

We have done her wrong. Oh, have we treated her badly. It is time to make up for all the abuse. On that, we can all agree. It seems, however, that we have skipped the "how" discussion. This is odd because the "how-to" is inarguably the most important part of the equation.

So why have we jumped to the conclusion of government action? The left has hijacked the issue of the environment and claimed it as their own. As the left is one to do, they've presented huge increases in spending and power as the all-encompassing solution. We see this with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal," which prescribes unprecedented increases in government power over its people.

The truth is, this Earth is equally belonging to all of us. It is not an issue of the left or the right. Unfortunately, when true environmentalists become wise to the fact that the government bureaucracy is ineffective and bursting at the seams already, they are condemned and ostracized by the climate change movement.

Here is a rule for life as we go forward: government action should be the last resort.

It is a fact, backed by historical evidence, that the private sector is far more effective than the government bureaucracy. Not only does job creation in the private sector affect the economy positively — a stark contrast to job creation in the public sector I might add — but it is also able to produce real results while the public sector gets tied up in never-ending amounts of red tape.

I have no confidence in the government bureaucracy healing our environment. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency, the very agency charged with defending our dear Earth, has been responsible for terrible pollution of Colorado's Animas river. This agency, whose sole reason for existence is to fiercely protect our environment, has been guilty of the very act it exists to prevent.

There is no reason to believe that government bureaucracy is effective. There is no reason to trust the federal government with our money. The only purpose that legislation like the Green New Deal serves is expanding the power of the federal government over the people.

Those who read the proposal should be able to clearly see that half of this resolution has nothing to do with the environment.

This proposal is a facade. It is a socialistic government takeover masquerading as a virtuous environmental savior. It should be clear to everyone that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez's resolution is dangerous and not the answer.

Free market environmentalism is our only hope. It focuses on private property rights that make the environment an asset rather than a liability. In this scenario, it is in one's own self-interest to protect and preserve.

The Clean Capitalist Coalition offers the most realistic and effective proposals. The proposals offered rely on human nature and historical economic behavior. When environmentally conscious options become also the most cost-effective options, even the greediest, evilest corporations will comply.

The options presented in the theory of free-market environmentalism are promising because they rely on human nature, just like capitalism does. These options also support our economy rather than damage it, as huge tax increases proposed in the Green New Deal would.

I am unable to describe all that free market environmentalism encompasses in one article (more are to come) but I urge you to do your own research and fully understand why this is the best option. Here are some useful links to research and understand both free-market environmentalism and the Clean Capitalist Coalition:

https://youtu.be/ADowFfaeWoU

https://cleancapitalistcoalition.org

https://www.forbes.com/sites/waynewinegarden/2018/09/28/free-market-environmentalism/#54549aa1f1a1

https://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/FreeMarketEnvironmentalism.html

https://www.perc.org/free-market-environmentalism/

Related Content

Facebook Comments