Global warming? Not right now, honey

In a blog post few months ago, I asked, “When it comes to living sustainably and protecting the environment, how far does personal responsibility go before we need wide-sweeping policy changes?”

Most of the responses favored a combination of both individual and government action. But as a New York Times opinion piece noted this month, we seem to be forgetting about global warming all together. It logically makes sense, as a Washington Post reaction piece points out — apart from the difficulties in passing environmental legislation in Washington, we’re a little distracted as a nation by the economy.

But as we near Halloween — the guesstimated date that we’ll reach a worldwide population of 7 billion — maybe it’s time to revisit climate change. And according to journalist Christian Schwägerl, we can do it by connecting it to that big black cloud on everyone’s mind: The economy.

He summarizes the 2008 collapse like this:

“The financial crisis that erupted in 2008 was driven by governments and consumers wildly over-spending, abetted by bankers and financiers who got rich doling out loans to people who often had little chance of repaying them. A bad loan is one where one or both sides don’t expect repayment and design ways to pass on the risk to somebody else, for example the taxpayer or central banks.”

Connecting the financial crisis to rampant overconsumption of the Earth’s resources, Schwägerl continues:

“… the Ponzi scheme of hyper-consumerism is approaching the equivalent of the Lehman collapse in 2008. Ecologists tell us that humans are consuming natural resources at a scale and speed that 1.3 planet Earths would be needed to sustain it, and that it would take four to five planets if all the Earth’s 7 billion people wanted to live like the West. With more ecological problems building up, it’s time to pay the bills ourselves, rather than fobbing them off on children.”

And then he puts out the challenge: Don’t let an environmental crisis like the one we are experiencing go to waste. Let’s do something about it. Let us learn a lesson from the economic collapse — we can’t repeat this process of “bad loans” with the environment.

As baby No. 7 billion arrives this month, maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at what we can be doing to re-focus the public conversation on climate change and sustainable practices — whether it be as individuals or as a push for wide-sweeping policy change.

To get involved in York County, check out our list of local resources.

Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.

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