Are you affected by climate change? Many will answer this question with a hesitant “…yes…”, but very few will understand the extent to which climate change impacts their daily lives. I mean, sure, both the news and textbooks already cover how the Polar Ice Caps are melting and the Great Barrier Reef is deteriorating, but will that change your plans for lunch this afternoon? Not necessarily. You might choose to follow the recycling directions marginally more carefully as you toss out that Qdoba wrapper, but climate change will be nothing more than an afterthought as you select the most delectable dessert.
The lack of enthusiastic support to spread awareness about climate change should not be attributed to the idea that we simply don’t care, but rather we don’t know how to care. Society constantly bombards us with information to process, understand and assess, and we assign relative priority to the magnitude of other information we are simultaneously processing. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are just a few of mediums that relay this information. Factor in school, social interactions, news, literature and more, and it becomes clear how incredibly impossible it is to efficiently comprehend the vast array of topics portrayed to individuals in our society. This includes information about how to best protect the environment.
The millennial generation has become increasingly vocal in their stances on environmental issues and are more apt to support political decisions aimed towards greenhouse gas reductions and increasing financial incentives for renewable energy. Even though older generations often deem us lazy, entitled, tech-savvy and more self-absorbed than previous generations, these generalizations…well, they’re just that: generalizations. Although we don’t necessarily reflect the values and behaviors of prior generations, it should not be an indication of our abilities. Through technology, the youth of this generations utilize more resources to further their ideas and passions. With social media alone, they can spread the word about meaningful events and discuss controversial topics, creating a hub for activism.
Technological advances allow us to gain access to a multitude of information at the touch of a screen, but they also render us incapable of recognizing the impact of certain matters. As Dr. Adam Oliver Brown, Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa, states in his own article regarding climate change, “…there is an imbalance in the communication that the public is receiving on this important topic.” We can swipe our screens from topic to topic, sharing on Facebook or tweeting about what we think is important to us, but these movements are passive. After a mere second, our brains have already diverted to the next “big thing.” The imbalance is created when our virtual actions do not mimic our physical ones.
Communication is a large part of what contributes to this lack of concern for climate change. Because of the bombardment of information, each consecutive discussion regarding climate change is progressively less effective. It’s a common habit that we all have: if we’ve already read one article covering a specific topic, why read another? In an effort to be efficient with time, the latest news is scanned for only the most important details. Because of this, we miss a meaningful method by which to connect with the information we are presented with. A large portion of our society is unable to directly see climate change as an effect in their lives, and subsequently brush it off as “not my problem.”
But the truth of the matter is that it is our problem. It’s mine, yours, your neighbor’s, your professor’s and our society’s. The human population has altered the chemical composition of the global atmosphere drastically in recent years with substantial implications for climate change. Climate change affects food production, water availability, natural resources, wildlife and human health. Facilitate connections with the effect of climate change by identifying how it affects you. If you love animals, realize how much climate change affects their lives and how extinction is a very real possibility for many species. If you love swimming, understand that aquatic life cannot continue to survive in current oceanic conditions. Make climate change personal and it’ll become easier to find ways to help.
Individuals today might feel that they need to start a large campaign or protest to make a difference, but that’s not true. You can start making a difference by simply changing certain routines or switching out for something more environmentally friendly. For a list of ways you can be more “green,” check out these Moda articles in our Lifestyle section: Making Your Life Greener and Simply Saving the Planet.
For more active involvement, join the Climate Change March this coming Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017! Join us from 2PM to 5PM at the Wisconsin State Capitol to make your voices heard!