I am worried about climate change. Extreme weather conditions, spreading diseases. Arctic ice cap melting, rise in the sea level, flooded homes and nuclear plants on the coastline.
And yet, I still book flights to places where I necessarily wouldn’t have to go. I sometimes accept car ride offers or yield into group pressure of taking a cab. I don’t usually turn my mobile phones off for the night, and I turn the lights on when it gets dark. Sometimes, I take an elevator because the stairway is inaccessible, or because I simply forget or I feel I’m in a rush. And one big sin I didn’t even realize at first – out of convenience, I’ve taken a towel from the fitness hall when I’ve gone swimming, which means that the towel is used only once before being washed.
But I feel guilty about these choices, this unnecessary waste of energy. I don’t really want to save time on the planet’s expense. I don’t think my time is more valuable than the health of nature and the survival of human race.
Climate is changing. There’s more than enough solid evidence on that nowadays, even though some still try to deny it. Frankly, I don’t care if you don’t believe that climate change is caused by human actions. Even if you think that mother nature is just getting hot and bothered as a natural part of her cycle, you still should try to stop making it worse. We shouldn’t foul our own nests. Clean air and water are becoming rarities with the amount of carbon, microparticles and other nasty by-products and chemicals that our way of living pumps into our environment.
Quote from Bill McKibben’s new introduction to his book End of Nature:
The elder President Bush was facing a reelection battle against Bill Clinton, and so advisers persuaded him to attend the world environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, possibly the most optimistic moment in recent history. Before he went, however, he told a press conference that “the American way of life is not up for negotiation.”
Behavioral economists might say that this is a great example of valuing short-term pleasures over long-term consequences. We just want more and more with as little effort as possible. Larger houses, larger cars, larger breasts, larger portions of food delivered faster, more and more travelling to snap pictures we can share on Facebook to show that we are not boring. Are we really so simple? Do these things really make us satisfied with our lives?
Incidentally, what is good for environment is almost always good for health too. Switching from a car to other means of transportation. Eating locally grown vegetables and fruits, lean meats, ditching processed junk. Turning off electronics to focus on friends and family. Getting involved in community efforts to increase green areas, sidewalks, bike lanes and public transportation. Recognizing that coveting material possessions is not the way to true happiness.
I am worried about climate change. We are already suffering the consequences all around the world and we need to start acting and changing. We simply cannot afford the consequences of continuing on this path. Reducing waste is one good way to start.