When we was in middle and high school, the ‘climate change’ talked about in textbooks and Biology classes seemed like this very complex, intractable problem. It seemed you had to be a scientist to understand exactly what was going on, and that the scientists were going to have to invent a way out of it.
The simple reality is that our entire society is based on burning. Burning coal creates power; burning petroleum moves cars and trucks. These emissions have to go somewhere. If you burnt these things in a closed room, you’d suffocate. But instead, we’re relying on our disappearing forests to create breathable air. But more forests are constantly being logged for lumber; and the amount of CO2 in the air is increasing.
If we continue at this rate, within 20 years the Earth’s air will have the same concentration of CO2 as the air inside a stuffy room today — making “a breath of fresh air” a thing of the past. We can’t allow that to happen.
Institutions like UC Berkeley put a lot of resources into studying and quantifying the ongoing ecological destruction. But only we have the power, collectively, to smash the current system. This system only connects us fleetingly through colonization, consumption, war, and profit. We have to build new kinds of connections and relationships across these lines. We have to organize to stop corporate dispossession abroad and abolish the settler state here. The survival of the world depends on the end of the one we’re living in now.
Emissions in the global North do have an outsize impact on the rest of the world, so even simple choices do make a meaningful difference. Here’s some suggestions:
Avoid Air Travel. One of the single most significant things you can do is to avoid traveling by airplane. Only 20% of the people on the planet will fly on an airplane in their lifetime. One flight generates the same amount of carbon emissions as an average person in many countries does in a year. Consider traveling by train or bus. In California, you can ride the train to LA, the Central Valley, and San Diego. It takes longer, but the difference is less when you consider the amount of time you would have spent in security and waiting for your bags. Plus, there’s comfy seats, a snack/lounge car, people to socialize with, and often free Wi-Fi.
Consume less. The Bay Area has a robust network for getting things cheap or used – see the resources in the contact list for details. Look first for used furniture, electronics, and other goods. You’ll save money and keep it local.
Understand the crisis. The different variants of COVID-19 were highly publicized during the pandemic, and we adapted our behavior accordingly. We should be paying the same attention to the different sources of emissions, and the specific gases – such as carbon dioxide and methane – which are causing climate change.
Take action! Join a forest defense! Sabotage Bezos’ rockets!
note: unfortunately an unedited version of this article was printed in the guide instead of this version – sorry!