APRIL 22 is EARTH DAY.
With life on earth being under threat as a result of human-initiated activities, the one question we need to ask ourselves is, What can individuals do about climate change?
Evan O'Neil of the Carnegie Council explains that climate change is a collective problem, the sum of millions of individual choices. The long-term and global scope of the issue can be intimidating, yet the moral imperative to act now is clear. People are already perishing of extreme weather and drought-induced famine. Habitat loss, pollution, and over-harvesting threaten the ecosystems we depend upon and the species that share our Earth. Island nations are being swallowed by the sea. What is the most important thing a person can do to have an impact? From consumer purchases to political action, how should we prioritize the solutions at our disposal?
Founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben answers that “As Individuals We'll Lose”. “You simply can't make the math work to solve climate change one household at a time, or one campus, or one congregation, or one anything. You have to get organized”. He continues, “Ever since we started building a big climate movement at 350.org, we've met people who meet the following description: They were aware of the problem, sometimes deeply. They had taken small steps – like changing their light bulbs to energy-saving bulbs. They understood that these actions were not really going to solve the problem. They felt so damned small against a problem so big. And of course, they were essentially right. You simply can't make the math work to solve climate change one household at a time, or one campus, or one congregation, or one anything.
It's important to get our lives in order: But if change is going to matter, it's going to have to come by multiplication, not addition. That means: politics. It means banding together to fix the problem at a systemic level—almost certainly by putting a serious enough price on carbon that we can actually bend the trajectory of energy use on this planet. People have been seeking a political solution for a long time, of course, but most of that period was spent thinking that if we could just convince some key world leaders of the severity of the problem, they would do something. That approach died in Copenhagen, and it died because it hadn't reckoned with the power of the fossil fuel industry, which has used its financial might to block real progress. Since we'll never have as much money as Exxon, we need another currency—bodies, spirit, creativity. Solidarity. And we've shown it's possible—in the last three years 350.org has coordinated almost 15,000 demonstrations and they have taken place in every country on earth save North Korea. CNN called it the most widespread political activity in the planet's history.
So one way of answering this question is to say: As individuals we're powerless against climate change. If we act as individuals we'll lose. The only way we won't is if we join together”.