It is well known that Climate Change has become a political football, rather than an universally acknowledged reality.
However, earth is not an abstract football, but an actual warming planet that we should all be attending to.
Some people raise the “alarm” about climate “alarmists.” Their concern is that all this talk of extinction and storms is hysterical. We should be, in some estimations, putting forward solutions about real problems like a living wage, healthcare, corruption, or any number of genuine concerns.
Another concern they have is that it’s all doom talk. It is scaring our children. It is provoking anxiety. It is causing mental illness. It is distracting us from pressing issues. Is it?
Many of us would argue of course, that things like impeachment investigations and gun violence are a greater distraction, however, let’s examine the points that anti-alarmists are trying to make.
Their primary point is that environmentalists are fear-mongering. Let’s ignore (for a moment) that saying our children are being brainwashed and emotionally damaged is also fear-mongering.
Let’s look at the facts about what proponents of clean energy, a green new deal, healthier food, a cleaner environment, energy independence and security, and protected ecosystems are actually saying.
Preventing ecological disaster is not negative, it’s the most positive hope we have
For years, disinformation campaigns funded by the world’s most profitable industries have pooh poohed the “scare tactics” of people concerned about climate.
They insist that the hysteria is detrimental. It is negative, over all. It is causing sad, and broken people like Greta Thunberg to live in fear of an uninhabitable world.
But that is not the actual situation.
In short, suggesting that we should mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and push for something better, is the most positive and least threatening perspective on the present crisis that there could ever be.
Think about it for a moment. Is having cleaner energy likely to end all jobs? No, it suggests we can create better, healthier jobs. Definitely, it will provide a wider variety of jobs, rather than clusters of the same extraction jobs in limited regions, such as coal in West Virginia, or oil in Wyoming.
Will it threaten our food web? No, it will streamline our efforts to more efficient food growth, distribution, and access. Yes, people may choose to eat less meat, but that would make people live longer, healthier lives. Will it hurt national security and dominance in energy? The military has already weighed in and sees climate disaster as a much greater threat to national security. Will it take away choice? It will offer alternative choices, in healthcare, jobs, food, public land use, public transportation, and so much more. Will it tank the economy? It will hurt, no doubt, the already faltering fossil fuel economies, but these are already falling from favor, fading with the increased costs of extraction, and surviving only because of little public awareness of how much the public is asked to pay for them. Subsidies of billions of dollars for polluters took a century to put in place and are only recently meeting with calls for divestment from many unwitting supporters. Will it destroy democracy and replace our leaders with nutjobs and crazies who wish to demolish capitalism and force soviet style communism?
Democratic socialism, something yet to be truly tried, is not the same as communism, which itself was co-opted by authoritarians, and elitists.
Regular people, most of which are not activists, that would prefer to see clean fuel take the place of polluting fuel, are really just citizens who want a better future for their family and community. They are not hysterical with fear, nor are most people finding that mental illness is being driven, or even exacerbated, by calls for more work on better systems of protecting sustainable systems of food, work, health, and transport.
People want to be the best they can
Many people who insist wanting a cleaner, greener world is fear-mongering are ignoring something else as well. Human psychology shows that people WANT to feel empowered. They want to feel their choices make a difference. They want to be heroes against Nazis in World War II, (and maybe WWIII). They want to contribute. They want to be on the right side of history. More people want equality, for race, gender, and faith. They identify more with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Malala than they do with any non-remembered names who fight such heroes.
Greta Thunberg, for example, inspires millions. Millions.
Those who want you to think that Greta is being used, sorrowful, and pathetic are entirely missing the point of how her activism saved her own life, according to her own account. Her one child one sign courage gave her — and many of us — hope. That hope is the opposite of fear, and that hope is vital if we are to do all we can to avoid the worst of suffering.
Also, to those who say we are ignoring the real problems, know this. There is no problem on Earth that is NOT related to our present climate crisis. You cannot address poverty, inequality, racism, healthcare, war, the rise of fascist regimes, the increasing droughts, floods, epidemics, fires, and refugees without acknowledging how all of this is affected by, if not driven by, climate instability.
So long as we all live on a shared planet, there is no such thing as separate issues. All issues are connected to our present crisis. We do no favors for anyone, not even the fossil fuels industries, or their bought politicians, by pretending otherwise.
Complaining about the alarmists is counter productive at best, and down right sinister at worst. It is time for all of us to address why activists, especially, are seen as alarmists. Rather than denigrating them, it’s time to invite every person you know to join the best possible outcome we can create — not through fear mongering, but through hope.
It is the best plan to side with the best planet we have.