This week a major UN Climate Report confirmed that without drastic reduction of carbon emissions our global future is grim. The report, written by 91 scientists from 40 countries, underscored that in merely 12 years, hundreds of millions of lives are at risk and the global food supply endangered — causing some experts to call this “climate genocide.” But before you become engulfed by anxiety, there’s another way to consider the news: as the opportunity of a lifetime.
Humans successfully evolved from the middle of the food chain to world domination because we are superior in our ability to innovate, tell stories, galvanize our communities. Thanks to these skills tackling major challenges is what we do best, and the challenge of our generation has arrived — to avoid global catastrophe. This isn’t Trumpian bluster and scare tactics, we are speaking from scientific-based studies. It is time o revive our primal impulses, flex our creative muscles, imagine and amplify stories of the future we want to see and will them into existence.
This report shows that a decisive shift needs to happen — and it will involve you, me, your mother, your neighbor, and those who are in political authority. If someone told you that you were going to die in 12 years, but you had the opportunity to change its course by changing your relationship to fossil fuels, rethinking how you eat, buying less things, and voting for people who are radically invested in climate change, wouldn’t you say yes? And by the simple virtue of thinking (just start by thinking!) about your consumption in every single part of your life and voting, it could also simultaneously tackle the problem of skyrocketing economic inequality, and mitigate the deaths of many of other people, wouldn’t you just do it?
President Trump regularly denounces climate change as a hoax and pulled out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison considers Australia exempt from the findings of the report (a particularly shocking response given the pending death of the Great Barrier Reef), Brazil is on the verge of voting in an extreme right-wing, anti-environmentalist, and the list goes on. The need to unseat these poisonous political leaders and their enabling political parties is urgent. Does this sound impossible? It isn’t, the only thing stopping us is a lack of imagination.
It’s time to imagine the future you want, set your sights on it, and fight like hell to get it and while you can reduce your unadulterated consumption, we also need to think about how to change those who we choose to elect dictate our futures. Every single person who has the ability to vote must do so. If you can’t vote, and even if you can, you need to do everything in your power to reach other potential voters and make sure they vote too. Canvass, phone bank, provide transport to elderly or otherwise immobile voters, find eco-friendly candidates and donate to their campaigns, share information in your workplace, talk to the family member that is still in denial about climate-change (kindly, and patiently). Do everything you would to secure the future of your dreams because the alternative is a total nightmare. We are perfectly primed to face a crisis of this magnitude, it’s merely a question of whether we can muster the will to make it happen - I believe we can.
Here is a list of organizations in the United States we recommend to start taking action today:
Words: Laura Jones
Copy Editor: Sonjia Hyon
Photographer: Lee O'Connor