I saw a lot of nods to Earth Day this week, on social media and beyond. Climate change is on my mind daily, though I know I could do more to lessen my impact on the planet.
I saw many of the usual suggestions for Earth Day…
– Eat less meat
– Recycle more
– Use less water
– Conserve household energy
– Drive less, and do so in more efficient vehicles
– Travel less
– Use less paper
– Eliminate single-use plastics
– Vote for politicians who champion fighting the climate crisis
These are all important individual steps, and if we all practiced them, it might benefit climate change over time. I’m not sure we have that kind of time.
I have my own thoughts on what might make the most immediate impact on climate change, but these are large-scale group efforts which, to be impactful, need to begin immediately…
First, no reasonable conversation about climate change should exclude the idea of nuclear energy, if only as a 100-year (or so) bridge until the use of sustainable renewable energy is mastered and maximized.
Two, is to accept that we can live without most printed materials. This would include business and legal documents, books, newspapers, magazines, compact discs, pamphlets, correspondence — virtually anything that is now printed but can be otherwise created and distributed digitally. It’s been suggested by some climate scientists, including Sir John Houghton, that replacing printed materials with digital copies of the same could, in itself, create a measurable slowing of CO2 levels within a couple of decades.
But none of this really matters. Because the most important thing we can do to combat climate change is something we are increasingly unwilling to do — to prioritize bridging the gaps between political, cultural, and social divisions.
No significant steps in addressing climate change can be initiated from a divided populous and the divided leadership selected by that populous. At the most grassroots level, we need to grow up, quit pointing fingers, quit name-calling, and listen, even if we don’t like what we’re listening to or who’s speaking it. We also need to elect people willing to do the same.
We understand the changing ecology and climate through science. So too, do we understand cultural and political polarization — through science. Scientists study the impact of name calling, arguing, and refusal to participate in discourse, in the same way they study CO2 levels.
It’s been proven mathematically that when we insult somebody — when we call someone a name, shut them out of the conversation, or refuse to listen to them, it widens and reinforces the gaps which divide us.
Or to frame it this way…
There’s no moral difference between throwing a plastic bag into the ocean or disparaging somebody we disagree with. One-off, it’s no big deal. However, when everyone is doing it, the oceans soon become clogged, and the waters of discourse are unnavigable.
It’s not a joke.
There’s no need to recycle, conserve energy, or cut back on meat consumption if, when we interact with those of opposing values, we choose to give them the middle finger over an ear or acknowledgement.
There’s a science to understanding social and political polarization. If we’re willing to embrace climate science, we should also pay attention to the science of getting along.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 15.0
Seat Time: 12 hours 52 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Matthew Sweet. Enjoy…!