Surely you’ve heard the news by now: Climate change is upon us faster than anticipated.
Whether or not you believe the data supplied by many climate scientists, government agencies, researchers, photographers, civilian advocates and our own eyes is entirely your call.
I know I certainly do.
However, even if you don’t see climate change as a serious, immediate risk, I beg of you: Act like you do.
Given the nightmarish predictions of what will happen should we choose complacency over action, we must err on the side of caution.
That doesn’t mean I expect everyone to go out and buy a hybrid car, swap out natural gas lines for solar panels and adopt a completely vegan diet by tomorrow.
Still, we need to take some sort of action—and fast.
Waiting for the government to get its act together to pass regulations is like waiting in line at the DMV; you may initially have hope of a quick, smooth exchange, but you’ll be stuck waiting impatiently until your issue finally gets to the head of the line. And that doesn’t even account for the time it takes to finally get it resolved.
Besides, government intervention shouldn’t be the driving force to get us to change our habits.
I would have thought that an impending ecological crisis could do that all on its own. Maybe it still can.
Start by taking small steps that can have a positive influence and slowly build your way up to more sweeping changes.
In my own life, I am attempting to be more environmentally conscious, especially in light of the sustainability course I am enrolled in this semester.
I eat meat with as few meals as I can, avoid excess plastic wherever possible and switched from liquid body wash to bar soap.
It’s not anything huge, but it’s a start.
I recently asked my dad if he would consider going meatless, at least some of the time, in the interest of reducing the immense greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption incurred by raising and processing livestock.
His answer? A resounding “No.”
I get it; Americans love to eat meat. Some of the most iconic American dishes are cheeseburgers, fried chicken and anything barbecued.
According to the Washington Post, “Replacing one 5-ounce steak a week [over the course of a year] with the caloric equivalent of beans, such as chickpeas, offers the same climate benefits as not using 38 gallons of gas.”
Most people probably aren’t eating steak once a week, but you get the idea.
I don’t think it’s asking too much to implore meat-eaters to lessen the stranglehold we have on animal flesh for the sake of improving world prospects.
This type of dietary shift may require a greater level of consideration and planning when deciding what to eat, but why risk life as we know it for the sake of convenience?
Additionally, swapping meats for vegetables, legumes, lentils or other alternatives often presents a more sustainable food option.
Reducing meat consumption is by no means the only way or the best way to combat climate change, but it represents a relatively simple example of the minor tweaks that can have a major effect.
If you really can’t be bothered to join the crusade against climate change and think that you won’t live long enough to be affected by it, think about the people younger than you.
There has to be at least one person in your life who you don’t want to see faced with the rising sea levels, soaring temperatures and increasingly powerful hurricanes it seems we are too apathetic to worry about.
This issue won’t be resolved overnight. I know that.
Be that as it may, we still have a responsibility to leave the planet better than we found it, and we can do that by working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and striving toward a more sustainable future.
Do your research. Be conscious of the impact your everyday habits have on Mother Earth. Pay attention to the choices you make, and think about what you can do to improve.
More people have to stand up and commit to condemning inaction for the sake of the planet.
Why not you?
Kristen Buchler is a third-year English major.