Climate change: are we screwed?

The older I get, the more I feel how screwed we as humans are. We’re in a pandemic that people knew was bound to happen but we didn’t adequately prepare for. And experts say that this is only the tip of the iceberg of how worse things can become. As a nation, it feels as though we are more divided than ever. People are more polarized than they have ever been. Globally, the marginalization, oppression, and exploitation of groups in the name of the state and profit are rampant. Violence and genocide of people around the world doesn’t stop. And we are spiraling towards the point of no return when it comes to fixing climate change.

These are things that I think about every day because I can’t help myself. As someone who is a highly sensitive person (HSP), I feel deeply A LOT and tend to be emotionally reactive (I know some of my fellow introverts and empaths feel this too). So when I watch or read the news, sometimes it feels like it’s too much and that there’s no hope. There is so much bad shit going on in the world. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming. An array of questions will run through my mind in order to process it all. Like why is the world the way it is right now? Why can’t governments and corporations see people’s humanity? Why can’t we as American citizens see how our lifestyles and our government contribute to the oppression of many groups all over the world?

How I’ve been feeling lately makes me think of my favorite artist India Arie’s 2019 song, Rollercoaster. Here’s an excerpt from the song:

Every time I turn on the news/I can’t seem to tell a lie from the truth

Earthquakes all over the place/Contaminated water in Flint it’s so crazy

Big pharma makin’ big ol’ bucks/Selling all these deadly and addictive drugs

And we don’t even know what we can eat/We got genetically modified broccoli

And they cloning animals, we eating the meat/The text thing they turn around/They clonin’ you and me

The way they do the human race is a ridiculous crime/ And Colin Kaepernick’s knee got y’all losin’ y’all minds?

Let me off this roller coaster/I don’t wanna ride no more

I honestly feel this way from time to time. Life in our current world feels like we’re constantly on this rollercoaster, and I just want to stop feeling sick and dizzy and just get off the ride. 

These days, I’m thinking about climate change and the state of our beloved Earth that we humans have mistreated. I didn’t grow up thinking about the environment and climate change. Like many of us, I learned in school about reducing, reusing, and recycling but that was about it. I didn’t see the landfills taking space in our and other countries where marginalized communities live; I didn’t see the dying Amazonian forest, or the waste treatment plants, power plants, and manufacturing facilities in low income communities like Chester, PA until I was older – maybe my early college years.

I think now there is more awareness about the issue of climate change thanks to social media. There have been a lot more articles, videos, and posts circulating recently with Earth Day being two weeks ago. More people are realizing that we don’t have much time. People in my generation (Millennial, baby!) and the younger generation truly give me hope because they see that the time is now and we don’t have much time left. This Earth that our Creator gave us is the only one we have left. There is no other home. We’re deluding ourselves if we think we can run away from that reality. It was made perfect for us and all we’ve done is exploit and harm it. We (I included) have lost our connection to nature. We don’t even know how our food gets to our table many times. 

Photo credit: Rupi Kaur

In the last year, I’ve been learning more about climate change. I recently watched the documentary, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, where British naturalist Sir David Attenborough shares first-hand the current state of the planet due to humanity’s impact on nature. In the film, he states that the film acts as his “witness statement” – a warning to us before his time on this Earth comes to an end – and his hopes for the future. 

Watching that film scared the bejesus out of me. I knew things were bad but that film illustrated just how BAD things are. It made me want to cry. Reflecting on all the current injustices in the world going on right now, I thought, There won’t be any issues to fight for if we’re all extinct as a species due to climate change. That felt like a grim thought but it felt true as well. 

As I’ve dived deeper in the issues of climate change, I’ve also been learning more about industries like the fast fashion industry and its impact on the environment. Did you know that the fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics? It is the second most polluting industry of the world, after the oil industry! The impacts from the fashion industry include over 92 million tons of waste produced per year and 79  trillion liters of water consumed per year, with developing countries often bearing the burden for developed countries. All of which adds to the world’s current water and climate crisis.

I think we as a species forget that the Earth can survive without us. That’s what I’ve always admired of nature and been in awe of. We need Mother Nature more than she needs us. She can regenerate and heal herself. If we become extinct, she will grow vines and trees through decaying buildings, she will claim back the land that we’ve manipulated for our benefit. The Conservation International Humanifesto states how, “Nature will go on, no matter what. It will evolve. The question is, will it be with us or without us?”.

I think part of the solution involves our own individual actions and habits: using public transportation more, wasting less food, making eco-friendly shopping choices, and lobbying our elected officials to support legislation that tackles climate change issues. The list can go on and on. And just truly understanding our true interconnectedness with nature and each other. However, I also think part of the solution has to be corporations and governments actually making changes that benefit people and are not for the sake of profit. The plastic, fast fashion, car, food/dairy, beverage industries would like us to think that the responsibility of tackling climate change falls only on the consumer. “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” we’re taught. “Keep America Beautiful” they say. However, according to Vox, “… individual consumption changes are futile since 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to 100 companies, according to a 2017 “Carbon Majors” report by the Climate Accountability Institute.”

Recently, in his show, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver busted that myth that if we just recycled enough, the problem would go away. Well, people have and the problem hasn’t gone away. The propaganda used by these companies has been intentionally pushed by the plastics industry for decades through ads like the 1970 Keep American Beautiful ad. With further investigation, John Oliver reveals that the Keep America Beautiful organization was partly funded by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) (now the Plastics Industry Association). Are we surprised when the core message is that it is up to us the consumer to stop pollution instead of them taking responsibility for their actions? Yes, one individual can personally do things to combat climate change but that isn’t enough. There needs to be collective effort: from individuals, corporations, governments, etc. to stop this. That is why we need to use our collective power to make sure these governments and corporations actually put their money where their mouths are instead of giving us lip service. 

For the sake of our humanity and for the future generations, I hope we are able to get our shit together. And I know that I will fight my hardest to live a life that respects and connects with Mother Nature instead of causing harm and I will fight for environmental justice and keep those in power accountable because my life, and our lives, depend on it. Y’all, I’m still learning but I hope we can do so together. 

I’ll leave you with this statement by Sir David Attenborough, which he shared with the UN’s Security Council in February 2021.


“Climate change can only be dealt with by unparalleled levels of global cooperation. It will compel countries to question economic models, invent new industries and recognize the moral responsibility that wealthy nations have to the rest of the world, placing a value on nature that “goes far beyond money. We may finally create a stable, healthy world, where resources are equally shared, and where we thrive in balance with the rest of the natural world. We may, for the first time in the entire history of humanity, come to know what it feels like to be secure.” – Sir David Attenborough.

3 comments

  1. Fossil fuels have allowed us to do a lot, but when they run out it will be back to farming, fishing, hunting, herding and gathering. Pre-industrial revolution. Back up a few hundred years and take a look at the future.

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