We need to know what is happening around us, and shift from seeing only what we want to see, to seeing the world as it actually is – and doing something about it.
By Danielle Lanyard
The most common response I've gotten to why climate change is ‘not my problem,’ is that you can’t see the impact that climate change has, or you can’t connect it to a root cause of human creation.
Or, if you concede that one of these two is true, then you can’t really do anything anyway, because we can’t do anything about it anyway.
Yet, there is just no truth to this fallacy.
Coding the "Direct" Impact of Climate Change
The first statistic that comes to mind, believe it or not, is Autism. I graduated from college in 2000 with a degree in psychology, a specialty in childhood psychopathology, and the good fortune of getting to meet some of the most preeminent academic researchers studying the then-relatively new phenomenon. In 1998, the prevalence of autism was 1 in 1150, and the DSM-IV had just dropped the moniker “Frozen Mother Syndrome’ from the Autism Spectrum Disorder classification. Really.
Fifteen years later, it is 1 in 50.
Yes, you read that correctly – 1 in 50. Just last week, a landmark NIH study was published directly linking air pollution and prenatal exposure to Autism.
This is happening right now. In our lifetime. Inside our breast milk and flowing through our blood streams and digestive systems. Speaking of digestive systems, when I was growing up in New Jersey, I didn’t know a single person with gluten intolerance nor had I ever seen a shop dedicated to gluten intolerant customers.
Zoom forward to today and an estimated six percent of the U.S. population is gluten intolerant, and a controversial documentary is out linking genetically modified food to gluten intolerance.
You can’t directly see this change, but maybe, just maybe, you truly can.
Take the Vanishing of the Bees. What is it about these bees that is causing such a fuss?
Bees pollinate the planet and tie it all together. When the bees are gone, the jenga of earth comes crashing down. And the bees are going, fast. You can’t see them going, but the fact that you can’t see them is no small deal, as over 50 percent of the U.S. bee population is dying. The numbers are staggering, and the link to pesticides is no secret. In fact, the ban of neonicotinoids in the European Union is the first sweeping measure to prevent pesticide use linked to colony collapse disorder. And in between the first draft of this blog post and the final published version, a massive bee die off occurred in Oregon as a direct result of pesticide infiltration.
Beginning to actually ‘see’ the implications of climate change?
What Can You Do?
So what to do about it when we only see what we want to see?
I choose to talk to the (wo)man in the mirror, and call upon her first to change her ways. For me, this includes composting and recycling at home, using compact florescent light bulbs, turning off all power strips and electronics when I'm not home, keeping a low carbon footprint by walking everywhere, shopping at the local food coop and buying all organic and local, and seeing us all as loving interconnected beings on this crazy spaceship called planet earth.
Professionally, I'm trying to make an impact with my startup Village Green, our Green Breakfast Club events and resource exchange, and our new Equinox Startup Services Promotion to provide services to green startups, as well as the conversion of our corporate structure into a worker-owned cooperative - putting our money where our mouth is, as far as the sharing economy is concerned.
But enough about me.
What can you do? Look at every aspect of your life and where everything comes from. Read the tag on the back of your shirt, see what developing country it was manufactured in, give a moment to think about the sweatshop it comes from, and pick up Naomi Klein's book No Logo.
Check your shiny new mobile device designed for planned obsolescence, and take a moment to think about where your phone goes after you replace it every two years just because you can. Hint: there’s an e-waste ‘environmental calamity’ with all our names on it in Guiyu, China.
And then look at your local politicians: who is funding them and who is voting for them. Did you vote? Do you know whose corporate money is in which politician’s campaign? Should you?
Wearing The Hat of Personal Responsibility
This leads me to my last point, on what each of us can do.
At first, it really feels like we can’t do anything, but is that really true? The change must begin within us, with steps taken in each of our individual lives, and then externally in the social institutions that exist to uphold our liberties, protect our people (and hopefully our environment), and keep things in a general state of order. Since we know these structures aren’t working out well and things are literally cracking at the seams, I’d ride that as a silver lining in the hope for a better way.
But what can you actually do? And aren’t we all going through cause fatigue?
Perhaps, yet my idea of the month is that there is a still a way to counter all this: We rally around one cause, which can open up the key to all other causes: access to information, a very specific type of information: truthful information.
The information that each of us does or does not have access to is solely determined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. And this is the place where we all must direct our energies for transformational reform. Really. It is like the keystone species of the entire house of cards.
Knowledge is power. We need to know what is happening around us, and shift from seeing only what we want to see, to seeing the world as it actually is – and doing something about it. If and when our own government commissions prevent us from accessing this knowledge, or allow third party interests to obstruct these truths, then we are a populace living in a state of fog. We then deem ourselves unable to see the changes happening around us.
This includes the changes that prove climate change is happening now, as well as the radically positive sustainability solutions that are changing things for the better and that give us reason to have resounding hope.