Journal 11: Lightly, Carefully, Gracefully

In his talk in ATS, Bill McKibben did not hold back what is in store for our future as a result of climate change.  In fact, he made it clear that the affects of the mass amounts of GHGs that we have emitted into the atmosphere have already taken affect by acidifying the oceans, melting the polar ice caps, created a hole in the ozone layer and caused more extreme weather occurrences. He also said that while climate change is definitely occurring, we do know what we need to do to lessen its impacts on the earth and civilization.  These ideas include: stop burning “things underground” aka fossil fuels, and start using things “above ground” to power our lives such as renewable energy sources.  The only thing lacking is the political will to change, which is what we must work on as active citizens of the earth.

The images that he shared from the 350.org movement were breathtaking because they showed the worldwide passion to beat climate change.  Those who suffer the most from climate change tend to be the lowest contributors of CO2 to the atmosphere.  The images showed that climate change is not an abstract possibility of the future, but is real and is happening.  The idea of a climate refugee is new and unfortunately here to stay.  Hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced from their homes due to sea level rise, and millions will be forced to move in the future will their ancient traditions will sink to the bottom of the sea.  How is it just that the least developed countries suffer from the developed countries remnants of economic success in the ways of CO2 and pollution?

I truly enjoyed when McKibben was strident about the importance of student activism, specifically with supporting the movement for Dickinson to divest from fossil fuel investments. Climate change is the issue of our generation, and we must become passionate about its implications.  If we do not take small or large steps to stop it, how can we expect anyone else to take a stand?  By investing a portion of our endowment in the fossil fuel industry, we are in theory and practice supporting the burning of finite fossil fuels and climate change.  Divesting the small shares that we invest in the fossil fuel industry would by no means make an impact on their financials, but would help create a movement of awareness and inspiration to stop supporting an industry that will eventually kill us.  Our future is in renewable energy and lesser consumption.  By investing in renewable projects, we are investing in the future and not the corroded paste of energy production.

Seeing Bill McKibben and David Orr in succession provided an interesting comparison.  Both men are for the same basic principles of sustainability, environmental justice, and slowing climate change, but differ in their methods.  McKibben makes a point to reach the masses with his message of ‘350 ppm’ through visual aids and social media.  Orr likes to focus on language, roots, philosophical thought and Eco literacy.  Both messages are equally as important, which is why having these two great minds work together gives me hope for our future.

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