|by Carter Humola|
The world is rapidly approaching a tipping point, the likes of which the human race has never experienced before. This breaking point will not come with the tolling of bells nor will it be televised; rather, the day will come as any other. We will start our vehicles, eat processed meat, and plug in our electronic devices. But there will be a catastrophic change to our planet as we know it. The full brunt of this change will not be felt until years after the damage is done, but it is the steps we take now which will have lasting effects on our Earth. Even with the worst to come, the preliminary effects of climate change are currently being seen in both the increased severity and number of disastrous weather events. If current trends continue and no action is taken, our world will not only experience a change in climate, but a rise in sea level, a huge loss of wildlife, food and water shortages, and of course an enormous influx of displaced persons. With each of these stressors taken as isolated incidents, the planet might be able to rebound from one of these events, but as a whole there have been no models that show any major recovery is possible after the tipping point. This tipping point I speak of is a mere 1.5˚C change to the Earth’s climate. While this may not seem like a catastrophic change, it will have utterly devastating effects, most of which will go unseen until enough damage is done where reversing them is impossible. A real change needs to occur now. No more denying the facts and no more excuses — it is time for a change or it is time to admit defeat.
It is ultimately you, the individual, who holds the power to spur a real world change. The steps that we take now will ensure the future of our planet, not only for ourselves, but for our children, and our children’s children.
If the action taken thus far by lawmakers seems lackluster to you, you are not alone. The same rhetoric and lethargic behavior have proliferated election after election at all levels of government. Of course most candidates see the climate crisis as an issue: they make promises and the voters want to believe that they will evoke a real change. But little ever comes of it. The fear that politicians have to question the status quo keeps them from making any radical changes. Their dependency upon re-election forces them to prioritize appeasing the masses rather than attacking this expensive issue head on. Today, the climate crisis is too important to be left to the politicians.
While pressuring lawmakers into passing science driven laws can spur action, I argue that the more effective method of conjuring a change is living a more sustainable life. Changing one’s lifestyle shows how serious an issue the public views climate change and expresses to lawmakers the society’s desire for a more sustainable future. Rather than telling lawmakers of the change we wish to see, simply be that change. Becoming the difference you want to see in the world does not need to be buying a Tesla or installing solar panels. These methods are certainly beneficial, yet the cost of such large scale efforts is unfortunately outside of most people’s price range. Still, sustainable action can be as small as using reusable bags, turning off the lights when you leave a room, carpooling, even buying goods from a local source. There is no action too small nor step too insignificant, as long as it moves towards a greener future. To be this change, there is little to no barrier to entry and it is easier than most people believe. Starting small and working your way towards more substantial changes in your community can make pursuing sustainability less intimidating. Community action can be as simple as spreading the word about sustainability to those around you, organizing a litter clean up, or volunteering at a community garden or CSA. Playing an active role in your community’s sustainable efforts promotes a greener future for everyone in the Lehigh Valley and is a step towards preventing our looming fate.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Whether you read this and decide to change nothing in your life or this article compels you to make a real change, it is ultimately you, the individual, who holds the power to spur a real world change. The steps that we take now will ensure the future of our planet, not only for ourselves, but for our children, and our children’s children. The time has passed to turn a blind eye to this calamitous and ever growing issue; if nothing is done in the months and years to come, this planet as we know it will be past the point of no return and I fear we will no longer recognize the world we have made for ourselves.
Change is slow; it is simply a part of democracy. But we do not need to subscribe to the idea that a law must be passed to evoke a real change. This small blue planet we call home is hurtling through space and it is up to us, the individuals — not the system we follow but the people — who have the power to manifest a real change.
“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something” —Max Lucado
Carter is a senior at Moravian College, Majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Political Science.
Published in the 2020 edition of Sustainable Lehigh Valley