People who say that global warming is a hoax or that it isn’t man-made seem to me like people who say “I’m gonna die anyway,” so they drink and smoke, drive recklessly, eat poorly, and refuse to exercise. Yes, some people seem to live hard and fast and still be healthy, but it doesn’t mean everyone can. It certainly isn’t an excuse to follow the crowd and eat excessively or abuse and poison our bodies. That mindset is causing epidemics like diabetes that are driving up health care costs for all of us.
Remember why you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater?—one’s liberties only extend to where it endangers others. One has the right to believe that only genetics or God causes cancer, but that doesn’t mean you can poison another with your second-hand smoke. Yes, you have the right to believe that global warming isn’t real, but polluting our planet is not an expression of freedom. Right now, millions of people are suffering the effects of our trash-producing society, buried in mounds of toxic garbage, laboring in sweatshops to create our toys, or not having access to clean water because companies have poisoned the streams. Humans starve while we feed grain to cows to fatten them for hamburger. Our “right” to consume is already stampeding the lives of people in developing nations. We need to wake up.
So, yes, maybe genetics play a role in cancer, or maybe you live in a cancer cluster and are being exposed to substances, but certainly you can take care of yourself and reduce the likelihood of getting sick. And if you live in a cancer cluster, by all means take action, rather than just accepting it as “God’s will.”
The same goes for the climate crisis. We can sit back and pretend that the glaciers melting is part of the natural cycle, or we can realize that the “natural” rate of glacial retreat should have taken centuries to melt what we’ve seen disappear in just the past twenty years.
In her book Green Gone Wrong, Heather Rogers compares the looming climate disaster to the recent economic meltdown. The simplified cause of the banking crisis was that we were overly optimistic that housing prices would continue on their merry way upward forever. People didn’t stop to examine that there “might” be a problem by getting in over their heads in debt. “Depicting the economy as secure was politically and socially feasible right up until we were throw in into the full impact of the crash,” Rogers says. “You could say we’re similarly leveraged on greenhouse gases. Although catastrophic levels of toxic emissions have already been released, we’re at the point where we can still get away with polluting and convincing ourselves that things will be fine.”
Much like the way banks hid their losses and sold them as investments, companies are trying to tell us we can just buy “green products” or carbon offsets to help save the world. But those green products still take resources to produce, and many carbon offset programs are fraudulent. Rogers continues: “With so many political, business, and industry leaders, and, of course, celebrities, claiming that we’re saving the planet, we can more easily let ourselves believe. But if emissions reductions are fabricated, as was true of so much wealth in the pre-crash stock market, then as our global-warming debt comes due, we will suffer all the more cruelly.”
We need to stop pretending we’re not “sick,” stop blaming fate, and work on getting healthy. For the future of humans and the planet.