Small changes make a difference
Q: Some of the most dire impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, are several decades away, and even the loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic is years away. How should we factor these threats into our decision making today? Should we be seriously worried about them, or not?
Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno, encourages his team by telling them that if they take care of the small things, the big things will take care of themselves. The same is true for many aspects of life including our health and climate change.
By the time we realize that our health has been compromised by poor choices earlier in life by not exercising enough, eating the wrong foods, accumulating stress, etc.; often a major medical procedure needs to be done to correct the problem. "If only we'd attended to our health sooner, we wouldn't have to worry about problems now." Certainly many of us have reached that consensus.
Right now we do have some uncertainty about how much our human actions affect climate. But just as we can assume that smoking isn't good for us, we should be able to conclude that belching smoke into the air isn't good for the planet's health. How much better off we'd be several decades down the road if we take at least some measures to curtail what goes into the air. I know we've made progress via the Clean Air act and other actions, but certainly no one feels good about seeing smog and smoke drifting upward where it may soon be out of sight, but for many of us is not out of mind, and down the road may haunt those who follow us. While it would be great if all of us, car drivers to factory owners, would take care of the emissions on our own, it seems that if often takes legislation to regulate what is usually more expensive.
I hope that the contrarians, nay-sayers, flat-earthers, anti-climate change people are right! I hope that we are not contributing to the warm up of the planet, but I also have to take responsibility from what we can discern now - that I am likely adding to an impact that will last for generations. I hope my grandchildren's grandchildren will know that I tried to do the right thing as I saw it.