I just finished unpacking the last of my Amazon deliveries today. My garage is full of the entrails of packing Styrofoam, bubble wrap, plastic tape and bags and of course forty pounds of cardboard. That was today. Two days ago I took my two grandchildren to McDonald’s. Even though we ate in, we dealt with the paper that wrapped our burger, the box it was placed in, the plastic straws and spoons wrapped in their own plastic protection. And of course, I drove everywhere as did the delivery vehicles dropping off my Amazon prizes.
What’s my point? I am an educated individual. As we dumped all of the McDonald’s waste into their one and only trash container, I could only pray that one of the McJobs was someone going through the trash to recycle the recyclables. Though I dutifully recycled everything I could from my Amazon packing and even went on-line to see if the Styrofoam could be recycled somehow, I still had indirectly created the pile of waste and could only wonder how many people would skip this process and just throw the whole works into the garbage bin, sentenced to eventually end up in a landfill.
All of this deniability is leading us to an inevitable end if we don’t personally and collectively change our ways. Science tells us that by 2050, if we continue at current levels, our polar ice caps will be gone and the resulting sea level rise will mean that parts of if not complete coastal cities will be gone. Granted, by 2050 I will likely be gone or at the very least, barely cognizant of what’s going on. My grandchildren, on the other hand will only be in their mid thirties and inheriting the mess we are creating. They will be contending with migration inland from coastal areas, hurricanes and typhoons that reach category 4 and 5 with frequencies never seen before, dangerous and permanent climate changes impacting year round weather. The only possible positive news is that the landfills will have created more ski hills.
In the face of this science, we have a political party that declares the science is just fake news. They bury their heads in the sand and make excuses stating that to beef up ecological standards would damage businesses and thus the economy. But if we continue at our current pace, that will be the least of our problems. Businesses can adapt. They can price in the cost of doing business the right way and we as consumers can make choices to do business with those that would. The science isn’t fake news. It’s science and educated people need to heed it.
We can continue to deny, we can pretend that we have more time than the science tells us, we can say it’s the next generation’s problem and not ours. As one politician from Utah offered as a solution, have more children and they will be smarter, even though he would also cut education funding, and they can solve the problem. The problem is that it will be too late. It is looking more and more like we may have only a decade to slow, stop and eventually reverse the impact of our behavior. We need politicians and leaders that get it.
So what’s a person to do? Here’s three ideas and I challenge you to add more ideas to the list.
1. Vote for politicians that will work on the issue. Even if you may not agree with some of their other policies, this problem is too important to not be approached by politicians willing to make the hard decisions needed to make a difference. They would strengthen not weaken standards, they would be willing to raise taxes to fund solutions, they would support alternate energy sources, namely solar, geothermal, wind and water. They would protect our green spaces and our National Parks. Make this a priority for them to earn your vote.
2. We can recycle and reuse. Learn what is and how to recycle. Reuse and re-purpose things. It can be as simple as taking your own bag to the grocery store. We can choose to do business with businesses that care about the environment and take measures to protect it. We can do everything possible to reduce our own carbon footprint. There are more internet sites popping up everyday that will provide us with the information we can use to accomplish this.
3. We can advocate with our voice, our feet and our money. We can fight for and support progressive candidates. We can attend forums and let our voice join others’ fighting for recognition of the problem and the change needed to facilitate a solution. We can write about it. We can stand up for it. We can stop denying.
We need to realize that we are on an interstate. It ends at extinction. We need to take the exit before it’s too late. We are not too small or powerless to make a difference.
Take the exit. Do it today because your tomorrow depends on it.
You should run for President, Ken. I no longer accept plastic straws from restaurants.