Updated: Sep 16, 2021
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
In Union Square in NYC there is a clock that is counting down representing the amount of time we have left to reduce carbon emmisions. Seeing this clock is overwhelming and causes me to panic. It feels like reaching that goal can be impossible at times and it feels like a major uphill battle. The anger, sadness, and frustration is then only intensified when getting news of the latest wildfire caused by massive heatwaves, hearing that a part of the ocean is on fire, seeing images of the ice caps melting, and seeing coral reefs quickly dying. The world is burning, melting, and crying out for us to create change. This problem's scope feels vast and feels like way too much for the individual to tackle. It can be easy to fall into the throught trap that my impact is basically negibile compared to big corperations so, in the what does it matter what I do? Because the problem feels so massive apathy seems like the best way out because at times it is just to overwhelming to think about the issues at hand. The thing is, we have to combat the apathy and start working towards healing the world.
In The Better World Handbook there are two cycles that are discussed. One cycle is the cycle of apathy which means that someone sees a problem, feels overwhelmed by the problem and doesn't know how they can help. Therefore, they start looking at and thinking about the problem and become apathetic towards to situation. Then there is the cycle of hope which says that someone recognizes that there is a problem and they undertand that a person can only do as much as one person can do. They make decisions to help the situation and do that until a better world results. They cycle of hope only works though if a majority of people buy into it because collective action makes a difference. We can sit here and be angry at the big coperations causing a majority of the damage in the world and we can and should hold the accountable. While holding coperations accountable is important, it isn't the only thing we should be doing because it is challegning to control the decisions of a massive coperation as an average citizen. That being said, there are many things that we can do to help put the fire out.
As individuals, our power comes with voting. We vote for politicians by physically casting a vote but, we also vote with our time and money. Voting in every elecition is immensley because that could create the proper legislation to help alleviate some of the problem. This type of voting feels like the most cut and dry type of voting and then there is the other type of voting that isn't as clear. Voting with your time and money says a lot because both of those things are instrumental in a society built around capitalism. Giving money to a company that is creating a negative impact to the climate or any social justice issue sends a message of support. By buying a product, we state that we don't care what they do or we support what they do even if we don't. Money drives companies and if a business is taking a financial hit they will have to adjust their model so they don't see those loses in revenue.
One way I personally vote is through my diet and shopping sustainably as best as I can. For the past fourish years I have been vegetarian and while my person might not make a big impact of the amount of meat consumption, there is still an impact nonetheless. If more and more people stop eating meat there will be less of a demand for it and therefore the supply of meat will follow en suite. It is clear that there has been an impact even in the past 4 and five years. Now, there are more vegetarian/vegan options around and it has become easier to live this lifestyle. This happened because the demand for alternative options grew and the supply followed. It takes time but, money speaks volumes and companies listen to money. I understand that this lifestyle isn't feasible for everyone due to a wide range of factors whether that be allergies, accessibility, or affordability. I believe if someone has the privlege to make the change and can without it making themselves worse off than before, they should. Or if they chose not to, they find other ways to help solve the problem too. If we want a livable world for future generations, other species, and a thriving biodiversity we all should put in the work.
Here are some ways to put in the work (You don't have to do all. You only have to do as much as you person can do).
Shop local at your farmers market
Recycle and educate yourself on what you can and can't recycle
Compost if you can
Spend money at companies that reflect your values and not at companies that go against your vlaues
Spend time educating yourself on what you can do and educating yourself of the issue (there are many good documentaries on Netflix about climate change)
Vote for politicians that reflect your values
If your local politician or representative does not care for issues like the climate, write to them or call them.
Don't give up and become apathetic to the situation.
There is so much we can do to help combat climate but, we actually have to do it. Now isn't the time to just talk about it. We passed the just "talk about it" window and we have talk about it and also do it simultaneously. Like the quote from Dr. Suess said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” So let's all care a whole awful lot to make it get better. We must.
*Union Square, NYC Climate Clock