Climate change–the issue that affects us on the largest scale, but is the one that is least discussed. I say it affects us on the largest scale for its repercussions extend to more than one single group of humans, to even the fellow living beings who co-inhabit this planet with us.
However, how often do we see this issue discussed, whether it be on social media or real life? Climate change and deforestation remain topics we think about only when we have to write one of those school essays that we detest. A half-hearted shrug before we continue to pump carbon dioxide into the air at alarming rates or raze an entire forest down in the name of ‘development’.
Unlike women’s rights, body shaming and mental illnesses, climate change isn’t getting the attention it deserves. While we see thousands of posts about them on the internet, catchy hashtags invented for the purpose of propagating awareness and all the poets and artists talking about it in their pieces, climate change doesn’t get any of that attention.
With a gift like the internet in our hands, our generation has still failed to curb environmental pollution– it has instead contributed in leaps and bounds to increasing it.
Some would blame the youth for it– but that is not right. How can you blame the youth when you have failed to sensitive them to the issue and when you have failed to curb their consumerist tendencies for the very products that are causing it? How can you blame them when you have been teaching them the current definition of ‘development’, that involves a dependency on what happens ‘on the larger scale’?
Some others would blame the leaders and their refusal to sign bills– but that isn’t right either. This is one of the very few problems that can be solved by individuals themselves, without a dependency on the government, and it is high time we realise that.
Now that we have discussed the issue of awareness (or lack thereof) in detail, you must be wondering why an issue of such gravity isn’t getting it. It is rather ironic on the internet, for it is full of rebels without causes, people who can start a war over something as trivial as clothing and celebrity gossip.
There is a problem staring at these internet warriors right in their faces but they choose to ignore it. Because that is what they have been taught to do.
But why is that?
We humans have been taught to conveniently ignore the things that bother us, whether it be our conscience or something like climate change.
But why would climate change bother us?
In a world where a nation is defined by how ‘developed’ it is– where ‘developed’ means large scale industrial production and new-fangled technology–this ‘development’ is everything to us. Being a consumer is being at a position of power and owning a car is a status symbol.
However, climate change poses a problem to this definition of ‘development’. It demands that we stop this incessant and directionless trajectory we are headed on. And this is a bitter pill for this society to swallow.
One may question further, in an age where people are breaking barriers and evolving constantly, wouldn’t it still be possible that someone would question it?
Before we answer that, let us examine the factors that have led certain causes such as feminism to become global phenomena and help millions of humans lead better lives now.
In our society, social media has a bigger role to play than ever. Catchy hashtags, small pages with tremendous online presence, fierce debates and discussions–they have revolutionised the direction revolutions take. With artists and poets taking the lead, several issues have been discussed and are on the track to resolution. People with mental illnesses, previously stigmatised, have now found acceptance and their place in the society. Victims of sexual abuse and harassment have found their voice.
One of the biggest factors would certainly be romanticisation of these issues. Poets like Rupi Kaur have taken it upon themselves to spread the feminist message, and many protagonists of books these days are found to be people who are victims of racial discrimination, mental illness or abuse of some sort. Furthermore, there is no shortage of abstract paintings and photography that contain a hidden social message. This has elicited a visceral and emphatic response from its audience and has worked to create a realisation about the issue at hand. As much as we may abhor romanticisation, it has had a greater impact than government campaigns ever will.
Sadly, global warming hasn’t received this liberty, and we choose to romanticise the apocalypse instead.
However, I would like to provoke a visceral reaction from you all by presenting some facts about climate change that will help you grasp the urgency that is essential to putting an end to it:
- If everyone in the world lived the way people do in the U.S., it would take five Earths to provide enough resources for everyone.
- The Arctic region may have its first completely ice-free summer by 2040.
- The UNHCR has warned that climate change could cause the displacement of 250,000 people across the world by 2050.
- Dangerous sea-level rise will very likely impact 70 percent of the world’s coastlines by the end of the century.
- 147 million to 216 million people worldwide can expect to see their homes submerged or put at risk for regular flooding by 2100.
- If Greenland melts completely, which could happen in 140 years, according to “Six Degrees,” by science writer Mark Lynas, then “Miami would disappear entirely, as would most of Manhattan.” “Central London would be flooded. Bangkok, Bombay and Shanghai would also lose most of their area,” he writes in that book. “In all, half of humanity would have to move to higher ground.”
- Global warming kills over 300,000 people every year, according to a UN report.
- Over 1,000,000 species are on the brink of extinction due to global warming.
Taking these facts into consideration, it can be quite easily noted that we humans are doing a stellar job of killing ourselves bit by bit. As easy as it might be to leave the future generations on in a dangerous and uninhabitable planet the way the previous generations have, we have more than the human race to answer. There are millions of other species that also call the Earth their home, and even though we are late, we aren’t too late.
This is one of the problems where small steps can lead to big results. And all we have to do, is bring the discussion out of classrooms and science labs and into our social and cultural interactions.