With protests and public opinion on climate change finally rising to impactful levels, the goals of these movements need to be defined. As we prepare ourselves for the oncoming conflict, defining what “fighting climate change” really means becomes critical for the creation of a movement with a clear and achievable goal. We must ask whether we are simply trying to fight the symptoms that this global threat will create, or if we are willing to truly combat the causes of this whole awful ordeal.
The first option is possibly easier and has a variety of methods to reduce the immediate consequences of climate change. Working to reduce plastic waste and encouraging sustainable measures in day to day routines are also extremely beneficial practices that can significantly reduce a community’s environmental impact. These groups may also work to build stockpiles of resources for when disaster strikes: guaranteeing that victims of extreme weather get access to food and shelter is essential. The danger that climate change causes on an individual basis can become significant, particularly in underserved communities, and providing relief from these hazards can do a meaningful amount of good. However, this is not truly a solution to the problem.
Just as Aspirin might make a broken bone hurt less in the moment, without a doctor and a cast, the problem will continue to demand constant attention. In this way, we must also work to find and resolve the sources of climate change that are causing problems in the first place. This means doing things like asking the question of why people and companies choose to pollute. Is it a lack of caring, which can potentially be resolved by a conversation about how pressing and urgent this matter is, or is it possibly something more nefarious? Is it less expensive to be environmentally destructive, and if it is, why do we have an economic system that enables and supports this kind of behavior? If profit is the primary motive of business, and businesses use that profit to manipulate the government, can meaningful legislation on climate change ever happen?
Although groups working to fight climate change are all commendable, we are strongest when we all come together with defined and transparent goals. We must refuse to be divided and weakened or to be appeased by small compromises that fail to truly make progress against climate change. We must constantly be learning more and adjusting our strategies so that they are always as impactful as possible. Every day brings us nearer to some potential climate disaster, but such a future is not set. I know that we can get out of this mess with a world better than it was before this fight began. The path forward is certainly one full of conflict, be it with stubborn family members, businesses or governments, but if we build networks to support and strengthen one another, and we identify the true sources of climate change, it is possible to make a difference.