I’ve been wanting to write about the environment and climate change in particular for a while now but have hesitated at the mere thought of the complexity of the issues. I try to keep these blogs brief and digestible at one sitting. I also hesitated because my background is in linguistics and literature and my -isms are feminism and political activism. What can I possibly say with any authority?
That all changed when I was watching a YouTube clip of Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and celebrity polemicist, answer a question put to him on climate change and the general state of our environment.
Gratefully, Peterson is not a climate change denier. His attitude was nevertheless flippant and defeatist, saying it was too complicated and politicised to solve. Enjoying the sound of his own voice, he couldn’t let it go at that. He went on, giving examples of the problems with solar and wind energy supplies and mentioning how Germany ended up using more fossil fuels as a backup to renewable energies. I don’t think these are reasons to give up. Naturally, there are setbacks. Think of how many failures NASA encountered before they could land on the moon. And of course, there are success stories, showing the efficacy of renewable energy sources.
Listening to Peterson, I couldn’t help but to think that he was putting up barriers because he might be suffering from a case of solution aversion. He certainly wouldn’t be alone. It’s no coincidence that among climate-change deniers are those who have the most to lose from the proposed solutions.
Another non-scientist, non-climatologist, to pipe into the debate has been David Wallace-Wells. He has often been quoted for the opening sentence of an article he authored in 2017: “It’s worse, much worse, than you think.” According to Wallace-Wells, as a result of climate change, the coming decades will bring floods, followed by drought and then disease and famine. As bleak as that sounds, Wallace-Wells is not the defeatist that Peterson is, finding hope in new technologies, such as carbon-capturing, alongside the many green energies being tested.
It appears I’m just another non-climatologist, non-oceanologist, non-biologist etc, to throw her hat into the ring. Perhaps my only right to be in this conversation comes from political activism. On this I’ll agree with Jordan Peterson and David Wallace-Wells, among others, who concede that the environment has become terribly politicised. It’s important to recognise this. While not eating meat and using public transport are steps in the right direct, real change is going to have to come from policy, getting governments to regulate emissions and invest in clean energies. This is not an original thought, I know. But so little is being done and some countries are going backwards and burning more fossil fuels, I feel it’s time to talk climate change and to turn words into actions.