Saturday, March 2, 2019

The most important lever you have to stop climate change: vote (and hurry up)

NPR interviewed David Wallace-Wells, the author of The Uninhabitable Earth, a book that explains (take a breath) that climate change is much worse than we think: it’s happening much faster than we think, will affect everyone and everything much sooner than we think. This is the opening paragraph of his book:

It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life un-deformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not circumscribed and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down.
None of this is true.

The good news is we are in control. We can fix it. We know what to do.

What can you do? Vote for people and policies that will change this trajectory.

I think people who are moved to live a little more responsibly when it comes to carbon, they should. If they want to eat less meat, if they want to fly less, that’s wonderful. I applaud them. It’s really noble.
But the contribution that you can make as an individual, adding up all of your lifestyle choices, is completely trivial to the impact that you can have through politics, through voting. I do think so.

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