Over the past four weeks, I have learned a great deal about climate change. It has become apparent to me that this is the biggest and most difficult issue that the world faces today. There have been many analogies drawn between this movement and successful movements of the past. Abolition, women’s rights, the civil rights movement of the sixties, and gay and lesbian rights are all social movements that have seen success in the past.
However, climate change, as I see it, is much different than these examples. For one it is an issue that needs to be addressed by the global population. Moreover, if addressing climate change is met with success, it will affect everyone on the planet, not a specific group of people, as past movements have. Lastly, it is a call to change our global systems to benefit those who do not yet have a voice. Past movements have been fought for by groups that would see immediate benefit. To successfully incite a dramatic trend of reducing carbon emissions and the restoration of greenhouse gas levels to near pre industrial levels, the fight must be fought on many fronts.
First is the need to realize and educate ourselves of our personal consumption and activities, as well as the impact of these activities. Market forces are what drive a majority of carbon emissions. Driving these markets are individual choices. If we want the chance to address climate change we must become aware how each of our purchases drive this fossil fuel based world. If we begin to educate and inquire into these purchases and how they play out, and the factors that go into making them possible, we can learn how we are connected, and driving, this carbon emitting economy. This knowledge will give individuals the ability to make more responsible personal choices. These choices include how we transport ourselves, how we eat, how we recreate, and how we are entertained. When all of these individual choices are added up it is possible that they can make a significant impact on carbon emissions.
Next we must call on our politicians and policy makers. This will require some research into the specific issues of your nation, region and community. Through educating ourselves we will be able to find the areas where our voice can be most effective. So far, there has been very little action taken by leaders to address climate change. Though there have been numerous climate summits, there has been no success to reach any binding agreements between nations. Without a binding agreement, each nation has been allowed to continue to make choices that contribute to climate change. Though the science is relatively clear, there has been a continued neglect of this very serious issue. However, through pressure by citizens, there is hope that leaders will wake up to the severity of this situation, as well as the desire for progress to be made.
There are many ways that climate change progress can be made. It will take collective action which is difficult; however, it has been seen in the past, many times. The time for action has never been more apparent. We must educate ourselves on the ways our personal and collective choices impact markets and leaders. With enough concern, voice and inquiry there is hope that global progress can be made.