If you are focused on your carbon footprint, there is a good chance you are a big part of the reason we are not solving climate change. What? you ask. I know. You think you’ve been responsible and doing your part. Stick with me for a moment and I will explain.
No, I am not making the argument that “carbon footprint” is a ploy of the oil companies, even though it is. No, I’m not saying the climate is a lost cause — yet. There’s still time and we can affect a lot, even though bad things are happening already. I’m also not suggesting that you stop doing what you can to alleviate carbon production in your own life. That’s good; keep doing it.
There’s just one problem: It’s not enough.
You see, to solve climate change before the utter disaster in Somalia spreads to many other places, the world needs you. It needs your best energy focused full time on solving the problem. Reducing your carbon footprint isn’t that; it is a sideshow. What’s needed is a rededication of your best energy to help fix the problem. Where does that go now? Into your job. You need to change your job.
If you are in sales, sell solar. If you are an engineer, work on battery technology, which we so desperately need. If you are a marketer, get the story out about solar and wind, and help promote the adoption of and subscription to these energy sources. If you work in the petroleum industry, look for ways to change the industry, like the reuse of oil wells for geothermal — a brilliant idea! If you are in mental health, turn your efforts to working with those suffering from climate and the scarcity society we are creating. Whatever it is, look for your way to contribute. Change your job.
What’s needed is the dedication of everyone’s very best energy to solving this crisis, and nearly all of us spend our best energy at work. We’re often too exhausted to spend a whole bunch more energy at home, so we settle for shaving our carbon footprint. But that’s a deal with the devil. It makes us feel like we are doing all we can to solve the problem when in reality, most of our energy is going to something else.
Somalia is only the beginning, and as I wrote here, it is the beginning because the poor are always in the worst position to resist climate catastrophe. Underinvestment over decades exacerbates the situation so they are always the most vulnerable. Somalia has seen 800,000 people displaced by the drought so far, a number expected to double by year-end. But similar droughts are occurring in Italy on the River Po, in Germany on the Rhine, in the US on the Colorado River and our reservoirs in the southwest, and in South Africa. People in these regions will also be susceptible to relocation. Indeed, some are already leaving. My next-door neighbor in Wisconsin is a climate refugee from Utah. “After 22 years of drought, we couldn’t take anymore,” he says.
Climate change is going to impact everyone on Earth, and fixing it is going to require everyone on Earth to create and participate in a new economy — one whose growth benefits the environment, provides profit, builds wealth, and provides for the needs and desires of the billions of people on the planet. That means people need to rededicate their working lives to that new economy and rededicate their lives to create it.
You, too. And me.
Let’s all get out there and do our part. Keep reducing your carbon footprint, but don’t let that be enough.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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