For as long as I can remember, climate change has been looming over my future. More and more people fear dying due to environmental devastation, and some even alter their plans for the future because of it. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 5% of childless people cite environmental problems as their reasoning behind not having children. While climate change and environmental destruction are some of the most pressing issues of our generation, having such a doomed mindset detracts from accomplishing tangible policy changes and environmental preservation.
Since the 1850s, the global temperature has risen by approximately two degrees, contributing to rising sea levels, melting ice caps and increasing heat waves. Our planet is struggling — that is no secret. The animal and plant species that have gone extinct from climate change will never come back, and that is undeniably a global tragedy. Beyond that, climate change has exacerbated natural disasters, which have taken far too many lives. Had we taken more aggressive measures to prevent environmental destruction in the past, maybe those lives could have been saved. However, we’re not past the point of no return entirely. If we take time to focus on what is ahead of us instead of ruminating on the past, we could have a shot at reversing some of our negative environmental impacts.
Dwelling on the past and ignoring the changes we’re already making and still have to make to protect our climate is not only inefficient, but also a convenient excuse to not take any action. For those living with a doomed mindset, altering their lifestyle doesn’t make sense — the planet is already destroyed in their mind.
What these people haven’t considered yet is that we could have a future if we start to change the way we live now. Some have already begun this work, and it’s impacting the environment as we speak. With the right preservation strategy, we’ve been able to revive endangered wild tigers, the humpback whale and the American alligator populations. New legislation by the Environmental Protection Agency is projected to eliminate 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide within the next 15 years. All this is to say that progress is being made, with large forces at work attempting to rectify our past mistakes.
Living in fear and simply writing our future off as doomed doesn’t do anyone good. Instead, consider the changes we could make in our lives, especially when it comes to policy. Who we vote for has perhaps one of the greatest impacts on the environmental policy constructed within the following years. As the primary and general elections approach, consider who you want in charge of the planet. Think of the land your dog runs on, your favorite ocean view and the best hike of your life, and then decide on your candidate. The outdoors and all they provide must be protected if we want to have a future worth living.
There is only so much more time before we reach a point when our lives are changed forever, impacted by rising temperatures, lack of consistent crop yields and the loss of untouched natural lands. If we spend all this time focusing on what has already occurred, we have no chance of saving not only the planet, but also ourselves and our futures.
Opinion articles represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.