Monday, May 13, 2013

It’s Not My Fault: A Fictional Conversation About The Climate

It’s Not My Fault
J: It’s not my fault.
M: What’s not your fault?
J: Global warming. Climate change. Increasing air and ocean temperatures due to the increase of carbon based gases in our atmosphere and a global greenhouse effect.
M: No, it’s not your fault.
J: So why should I change my life? I didn’t create this car-centric world with gas stations all over the place; electricity that comes from burning coal and gas; heating my house with oil and gas. I didn’t choose it. This is the world I was born into. I’m just trying to live – get to work, heat and cool my house.
M: So that’s why you don’t want to deal with global warming? Because you are just a rat in a race that you didn’t endorse to begin with?
J: Yeah. I’m just a rat. How about a mouse, a cute brown mouse. I’m just looking for my piece of cheese.
M: But there is a problem. You seem to understand the problem, right? You said it yourself, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is causing the average global temperature to rise which is causing ice caps, permafrost and glaciers to melt at an unprecedented rate causing the oceans to rise and warm. Weather patterns and ocean acidity levels are going wacky. So there is a problem. Does it matter who’s fault it is, we need to fix it, don’t we?
J: But if I didn’t cause the problem, why should I have to fix it?
M: Did someone ask you to fix it?
J: Well, I’m as environmentally conscious as the next guy. I recycle. I don’t litter or pollute and I don’t like people or businesses that do. But now environmental groups are telling me to stop driving my car or buy bio-fuel and a special car that can burn it; weatherize my house and buy “green electricity”. If the problem is the fuel we burn, shouldn’t the energy companies fix the problem? I don’t know anything about this stuff. I’m just a consumer. A mouse.
M: Yes, the energy companies should fix the problem.
J: Then why don’t they?
M: Because they are making lot’s of money doing just what they are doing. Money is a very powerful motivator. And Billions of dollars a day is a lot of motivation.
J: But we’re talking about messing up our whole ecosystem. Potentially displacing millions of people and extinctions of marginalized species.
M: Yup.
J: Still, it’s not my fault, and it’s not obvious that it will affect me very much, at least not for a while.
M: I can hear the Exxon CEO saying the same thing. He’s just supplying a product that the people are demanding. Kind of like cocaine, except it’s all legal – even government subsidized.
J: Well if consumers are just doing what they do, and energy companies are just doing what they do, who’s going to solve this problem? Governments?
M: Ah
J: Ah? What’s ah? Don’t our elected officials have a responsibility to take the long view? Regulate pollution? Protect natural resources?
M: Yup.
J: Then why don’t they do it?
M: Who are you going to vote for, the candidate that advocates carbon emissions regulations, possibly new taxes on gas, oil and coal? Or the candidate that advocates cheaper energy, less regulations for business, more jobs that feed a better economy?
J: Well we do need more jobs. And my 401k is already hurting. I need to think about my future.
M: What’s that?
J: I need to think about my future.
M: Bingo. We all do. Climate change is not your fault, but it is your problem. And you are part of the solution. You have the power to: reduce your carbon footprint, send a message to energy companies that you want clean, renewable energy, and elect public officials that will make the hard decisions and protect our children’s future.
J: OK, I’ll try. Want some cheese?

Written by:
Jim Wylie
Sierra Club Volunteer
Chester County, PA

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