By Renee Sim Enqi (22J10)
A screen capture from the film, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.
"This is not about saving our planet, it's about saving ourselves. The truth is, with or without us, the natural world will rebuild", said David Attenborough, the narrator for the documentary film, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is a film through which Attenborough expresses his concerns for humanity's impact on our world along with his hopes for the future.
The aforementioned quote is a call to action for us to protect the environment and fight for climate change. It is only sensible for us to work towards saving nature as in detriment, only we will not live on.
Scientists glued their hands to the U.K. Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy in London on April 13, 2022.
In recent years, the world has seen eco-scientists glueing their hands to the windows of government buildings, demanding an end to fossil fuels, and climate protestors practically screaming at us to do something about climate change before we face catastrophic consequences in less than 3 years. With these, you would think that more people would be in a flurry of panic, and scamper to be part of the solution to stop global warming. However, this seems to be far from the truth.
Why people are inactive in the face of climate change
1. The trade off of short term benefits for long term benefits are not attractive
Humans are greedy by nature. The long term consequences of consuming more bubble tea, compared to substituting it for what is considered healthy may seem incomparable to the short term gratification we gain from indulging in our guilty pleasures. However, with the nature of climate change requiring us to consistently make sacrifices for the greater good, not looking at the bigger picture would ultimately lead to our demise.
When some people prefer taking the easier way out and not caring about the implications of their actions on the environment, they will not limit their purchases and carbon footprint. This is attributed to the indifference that rids them of guilt and virtually any responsibility to do their part in mitigating the impacts brought on by climate change, and it ultimately leads to them leaving a substantial amount of carbon footprint in their wake. However, the easier solution of putting this issue on the back burner would cause adverse damage to our environment that no amount of effort could save.
2. We tend to distance ourselves from reality
Polar bear in an arctic with less sea ice
Diving into the complexities of the human mind, we tend to conceptualise matters that are distant from us in a more abstract way which causes us to accept these issues with lightheartedness. To illustrate this, melting ice caps, a consequence of climate change, has caused a rise in sea levels, threatening the survival of polar bears.
However, this phenomenon often happens far away from where most people live, leaving the human majority unaffected by these disasters. Hence, the sense of comfort and security from the imminent danger of climate change does not encourage us to truly understand the gravity of the environmental crisis, leaving us unmotivated and inactive in making a change.
3. The effects of climate change are sporadic
People often extrapolate problems linearly. However, this mindset proves to be dangerous when issues increase in severity in the long run. Smokers may likely downplay the severity of smoking a few cigarettes per month. However, years of accumulated damage from smoking may cause significant health problems like lung cancer. Thus, although the onset of these health problems may seem sudden, these problems are actually a build up of years of constant smoking.
Similarly, we have been engaging in activities for many years that harm the environment without obvious consequences at the onset, such as using air conditioning. However, significant problems that result from these actions can only be detected a few years down the road. Hence, climate change would appear to have sneaked up on us although we had it coming for a long time.
What we can do to help
At the end of the day, individual efforts may seem futile in comparison to the amount of change that big corporations, the largest contributors to global warming, could bring. This includes large corporations involved in the extraction and usage of fossil fuels. However, there is still much that can be done. These are a few easy solutions that you can integrate into your life.
Delete and remove unwanted emails to reduce your carbon footprint on the computer
Buy products with lesser plastic packaging
Unplug electronics that are not in use
Spread awareness of climate change on social media
Reduce paper consumption by reusing paper for other purposes (e.g. wrapping paper)
Use search engines which are conscious of their carbon footprint such as Ecosia instead of Google or other search engines. Ecosia donates 100% of its profits to nonprofit organisations focusing on reforestation.
Although mitigating climate change may appear to be a daunting task where looking the other way seems like an easy way out, it is crucial that we come together to fight these problems.