In the grander scheme of things, a call for empathy for the environment and living things outside of an individual’s everyday experience is almost futile. The idea that the Earth’s temperatures are the highest they’ve ever been on record for the past three years and the very thought that our actions in the present can have an everlasting impact on the planet is all too abstract for the Average Joe to fathom.
That’s why the biggest challenge any organisation or movement that wishes to protect the environment has to face is hitting that “threshold of care.” Because once you can get people to care, you can get them to act.
We need people to be furious that the trees producing the oxygen they’re breathing are being cut down by corrupt individuals and monopolising corporations. We need people to be sad that their children will probably never see a rhinoceros one day. We need people to be enraged that their homes along the coasts and on islands will be lost to the rapidly rising sea levels due to the continuous burning of fossil fuels. We need people to get protective and territorial over their children’s rights to clean water and air in the future.
Once people start getting enthusiastic about something, politicians and major corporations start taking notice, whether or not they like the general consensus. It’s a power-game. If public opinion is resilient enough, the biggest players will try to hinge on that. It’s up to the people to make sure they follow through: it is the simple rule of increased demand leads to an increase in supply.
If this conversation between the public and those in power is not maintained, we will be faced with climate wars – wars over who gets the rights to sources of clean drinking water and who gets to farm on the most fertile land. It will truly become a matter of survival.
But, here’s the catch: we may very well be living at the time of one of the first wars induced by climate change: the Syrian civil war. While a corrupt government and a rising population definitely contributed to the political unrest in Syria, climate change has played a part as well. The already bad drought in the area was catalysed by the rising temperatures and drying soils brought about climate change, researchers say. A loss of fertile land to farm crops drove farmers to the cities in search of solace and justice…
This is just one early example. It is already happening. We want people to care, but we do not want to lose our brothers and sisters along the way. How long will it take before other nations start taking action – or, should we wait for more unrest before we see any change in the response towards global warming?
In cases like this, and many others, it is common for the West, or the more developed, to admonish less-developed economies to make the necessary changes to avoid the unrest, the overconsumption and environmental degradation. However, it is simply not fair to push for less-developed economies to make efforts to eradicate the pollution, desertification, deforestation, or whatever the environmental travesty, when the more well to do economies, that can pay to make changes, sit with the same problems but make no real efforts to change what they consume and how much they consume of it.
This is because people in positions of privilege think that these phenomena are things they only get to see scientists talk about on their screens – they think they do not matter or the chances of them actually affecting them are little to none.
But, a change in one factor of an ecosystem has a domino effect on the rest – this is the beauty of our planet, and a truth everyone must come to adopt in order to see reform. In this way, a seemingly little blip in the lives of people on one side of the globe can very well affect somebody else on the other side.
These isolationist misconceptions need to be destroyed. No one ecosystem, no one economy, no one organism or individual is unaffected by the events affecting another.
The way any movement gets started – the way the flame is ignited is when just one person cares – that is all it takes. However, a lot of the time that one person may feel small in comparison to larger bodies of authority, as if their opinion or personal power will not mean anything. Situations like that call for the reminder that it is in fact an individual like themselves who heads those larger bodies of authority.
With a single cup of care, one can propel their idea forward. That is what people need to do about the issue of climate change. Do we care about the environment and how it will affect our futures? If the answer is yes, and hopefully it is, then we need to educate ourselves further (There is more to climate change than just literal “warming” and drought. Scientists predict severe winters and greater floods as well). We need to read all the studies, all the articles, watch all the videos, listen to all the podcasts, critically think about everything, and consider the opposing opinions. We will need to understand why others do not seem to care as easily as we do.
Next, we need to talk about it. Discuss our opinions and everything that we have been educating ourselves about.
A call for action does not require a strictly political, business or scientific background. We should use any and every medium (film, photography, painting, writing, sculpture, dance, music, etc.) to get our ideas across to rally others to our cause.
This is a plea to care. This is a call to action. This is a demand to do something before it is too late, not just for future generations but for ourselves today.