A few days ago I wrote a piece in the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation. Through meandering metaphor, I talk about the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and the reaction of Brett Kavanaugh and how none of it was ever about belief. That whether or not the politicians at the wheel believed her didn’t matter, because they were going to put Kavanaugh in that seat, even when we said no, even when we fought, even if they had to cover our mouths and push us down to do it.
I read an article this morning with a common refrain—every couple of years, there’s a new climate report about how we are so unbelievably and totally screwed as a species but there’s still hope, there’s still time, we can maybe undo some of this damage and maybe the planet will not become completely inhospitable to life. This one was different, though. It painted a darker picture. It put us on the path of devastating crisis at a much lower warming threshold than previously estimated, and thus put us there a lot sooner. The date in the headline? 2040. I’ll be 43 years old. Maybe I’ll have a couple kids in elementary school. I’ll have half my life left. They’ll have the entirety of theirs ahead of them. And the planet, conceivably, could be wrecked by ravenous fires, rapturous floods, and global food shortages.
The path to redemption is lined with immense sacrifice and immediate action, principally on the parts of governments and corporations, who are in the greatest debt to Mother Earth and have the power to reverse the bulk of the ecological damage that they have wreaked. The poisonous, guilt-inducing myth that if we all just stopped eating burgers and rode our bikes to work we wouldn’t be in this mess is over. Yes, individual contributions can make a difference when amalgamated over time. But like with the straw ban of this past year, it’s corporate sleight-of-hand. Tell individual consumers that it’s their fault while you dump toxic waste into rivers, while you burn coal when we asked for increased solar and wind energy, while you continue pouring animal products into our makeup and cleaning supplies in spite of easy alternatives. Profit off our guilt. Say you’ll go Dutch on the blame even though we haven’t eaten anything and you’re polishing off your second lobster.
The current president of the United States doesn’t believe in climate change. He regularly mocks people who do. He insists that the only way to make this country great is to increase the burning of coal and to continue jeopardizing the health of all the people who mine for it, even as programs for redirecting and retraining coal workers in other fields prove highly effective and, of course, less toxic to the environment. He has made it so that we are the only developed nation on Earth to pull out of the Paris accords. All because of, yes, political games where our lives are his bargaining chips, but also because of belief. A belief that humans could not possibly be to blame for a disaster of such literally epic proportions.
But it was never about belief.
Donald Trump, the planet does not care that you are a “billionaire.” The planet does not care that you are the president, or that you are a white man who was promised a feast of her bones. The planet is dying and covering your eyes with your hands will not bring her back to life. Climate change is not your god. It does not matter if you believe. It is happening. And your disbelief in provable facts is not just going to lead to the violent deaths of unarmed black teens or women in search of safe abortions or immigrants seeking passage to a better life. It is going to lead to the demise of entire species, not just that of the bees or the birds but ours.
If you aren’t already registered to vote, please click here to do so. And once you have, research where the candidates in your state stand on environmental issues—this website might help. Buy a reusable water bottle, bring canvas bags to the grocery store, carpool when you can, and cut back on eating animal products—but most importantly, VOTE. Vote with the future of the planet in mind. We are all counting on you. We are counting on US.