The crisis of climate change

The climate is completely off-kilter. As humans, we’ve contributed to an atmospheric rise in climate change since the industrial revolution. It all traces back to our abundant consumption and fossil fuel use. In case there are skeptics in my audience, the evidence is clear that humans impacted climate change dramatically.

A couple months ago, the New York Times reported that,

A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday.

Something snapped inside me, and I felt deep pain. How could we have done this to ourselves and the planet? I actually teared up, thinking about how we treat each other and this planet. It really hurt.

Shortly after that article, another was published that warned, the “Worst is yet to come.” Research found that record heat and floods were largely due to climate change:

The American scientists said the rise could be anywhere from one to four feet, and added that six feet could not be ruled out. Along much of the East Coast, the situation will be worse than the global average because the land there is sinking…

There goes New York City, Boston, parts of D.C., Miami, and more. We don’t have a contingency plan for all these people. The devastation would affect tens of millions of people. Individuals would flock to the west for shelter and a new start; at least, those who could afford it. I hesitate to think about those who might not have the economic freedom to up and leave low altitude areas.

Our consumer, consumption culture

This unpleasant, scary picture for the planet’s future is contrasted by a strong consumer culture that values growth, dominance, bulk, and abundance. When gross domestic product (GDP) estimates tumble on the national scale, economists, politicians, and Wall Street scream bloody murder. But when the temperatures are rising globally, and sea level rise is threatening entire countries, there’s silence.

We are an economy that’s feasting off of short-term gains, prolonged ignorance, and immediate gratification. Climate change skeptics are a dime-a-dozen and they’re propagating messages that are scientifically unproven, untrue, and dangerous. It’s all motivated by moneyed interests, and they’re looking for a way to keep the consumption going.

DJIA Stock Market Growth

30 stocks make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)

Our entire economic system is predicated on continued growth, but it will slow. Whether because of declining population growth rates, economic instability, or climate change, the economy will need a correction. It’s hard to fathom the willful, blissful ignorance of the markets, but the economy has not yet accounted for the pains of climate change. Just look at the most recent national weather tragedy, Hurricane Sandy:

An estimated 1.8 million structures and homes were destroyed or damaged, with economic losses exceeding $65 billion.

Unfortunately, the storms, floods, and wacky weather are only expected to increase. The economic consequences will be devastating for this country. Something’s gotta give.

Make an individual correction, save big

Frugality, simple living, thriftiness — whatever you want to call it — goes hand in hand with reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere (CO2). By consuming less and saving more, your actions can greatly help the environment.

Climate change is simple science. The more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more the earth’s temperatures will rise. The sun’s rays/heat will be trapped in our atmosphere, and keep us warmer. We needed some CO2, but now we have too much.

Congress and the greater world seem doomed to delay powerful action to reduce the effect of carbon emissions. While moneyed interests, lobbying groups, and industry experts delay necessary change, you needn’t stand still. There’s still time to take action.

Here are 7 ways you can make an individual impact on climate change and save big:

  1. Walk, bike, or bus to school/work instead of driving
  2. Bring your own bags or reuse them at the grocery store
  3. Shut off water when you’re not actively using it
  4. Turn off your lights when you leave home
  5. Try to buy local foods and products when you can afford them
  6. Turn off or get rid of your air conditioner
  7. Encourage friends, family, and your own politicians to care for this issue, too