Food for Thought on Climate Change
by Carol Willis
Of all the things that are on our plates to worry about these days, there is one more that we must add, because if we don't care about protecting our environment from climate change, nothing else matters. Not gun control, not abortion rights, not LGBTQ+ issues, not even January 6.
After years and years of hearing people nagging us that our climate was becoming increasingly hotter, increasingly dryer, and more and more extreme, it is time to actually start listening to these warnings, and then to take action.
Consider this truth:
Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the western United States. Twenty-five million people depend on water from this reservoir, and it is at an all-time record low. What do you think is going to happen when twenty-five million people lose their primary source of water? This is not an event that could easily happen not somewhere in the future, but within a very few short years. In addition to a huge exodus of people who will begin to relocate in search of a place to live that has sufficient water, the government reports that about 350,000 acres of farmland in the Sacramento Valley will be fallowed.
Humans have produced and consumed more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic since it became the rage in the 1950s. Of that huge amount of plastic, less than 10 percent of that has been recycled. The remaining 90% now fills our rivers, oceans, and shorelines. Plastic does not biodegrade over time--it just breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that are now found in Arctic snow, on top of Mt. Everest, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and in our bodies. Despite all our good thoughts and efforts, recycling plastic is prohibitively expensive and very few facilities in the world have the capacity to do it. Most plastic that is set aside for recycling winds up in landfills or is burned.
And, incidentally, this:
Did you know that 95% of most clothing that is found in landfills could be worn as is? The vast majority of clothing in the U.S. ends up in landfills, mostly overseas, and mostly because most people don't know what to do with used clothing that is no longer wanted. The fashion industry is the third most polluting industry, emitting about 5-10% of the world's carbon.
These issues and others are not actually in our backyard at this very moment, but they are going to be.
The only way that any of these sad but true events can be addressed effectively is through legislation. And there will be no legislation unless we start asking for it--demanding it.
Yes, doing our part to use less water and fewer plastics is very important. But these efforts seem to many just like the idea of starting a blue wave in Oklahoma. They are things we all want, but we are powerless to do one single thing about any of them by ourselves.
Our hope lies only in our vote. We must start now, today, with the very next election to hold the feet of our elected officials to the fire--from city government through the highest office in the land. We must make it known to every person who seeks our vote that we expect accountability and change. We expect laws to be developed and enacted that will protect and preserve our precious water sources. We must ask them what their ideas are to improve the quality of our air, to decrease our carbon footprint, and to cut our prodigious consumption of single-use plastics.
We must get the attention of every candidate who is seeking office and make it known that we expect them to have a realistic environmental platform and a plan to aggressively enact it. And yes, a candidate's stance on all the other issues is monumentally and equally important. We must now demand that the environmental issues be brought to the platform as well.
In this election season, many of us will be attending rallies, fund raisers, and political forums in which we will have a few minutes to speak personally to candidates. So as you shake hands and speak to these people, be prepared to ask them about everything, and especially about what they plan to do about climate change.
“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”
Barack Obama, Former US President
“Believe in the power of your own voice. The more noise you make, the more accountability you demand from your leaders, the more our world will change for the better.”
Al Gore, Former US Vice President