Humans crave novelty. We love to experience new things. It sparks the pleasure centers of our brains and brings a flood of positive feelings, on the wave of chemicals released into our bloodstreams. But change is something different. Here, we can be reluctant. We like our lives the way they are. The comfort and convenience of modern life is a state we enjoy and we want to keep it. When we hear about climate change, there are few people who find themselves indifferent to the chaos scientists tell us is coming, to our weather, our ecosystems and our way of life. We even have solid ideas of how to change our trajectory, from Greta Thunberg, Paul Hawkin, Bill McKibbon and other amazing people who have dedicated their lives to a better future. Somehow though, when it comes to making choices in our daily lives, we struggle to do what is right.
It’s time. Not tomorrow, or next year, but now. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has set very clear limits on the amount of CO2 we can release into the atmosphere before we set in motion tipping points that feed into one another and create a cascade of changes all over the world. We have only a few, short years to turn our petroleum dependent, worldwide economies and lifestyles into sustainable versions. We can absolutely do this, but it will take the determination of most of the world’s people to make it actually happen.
Greta Thunberg is right to challenge the adults of today. It is the people in power now who will determine what the world looks like for the people who are young today. As we run roughshod over ecosystems, causing the sixth great extinction on the planet, as we burn fossil fuels with abandon to run too many cars and airplanes, as we create plastics from those same petrochemicals and then toss them to the ground where they will take millennia to break down, we are building a legacy of loss for the coming generations. We do not have the right to do this.
Let us change our perspective. Let’s begin to understand the value of the tree left uncut. Let’s bring care to the way we see the other inhabitants of this world and absorb the understanding that they are critical to the balance of all aspects of our own way of life. Let’s bring our view to that of the astronauts, who comprehend with utter terror and humility, just how small and alone we are in the universe. This is the only planet we’ve got. The air, the water, the land, every single thing we know as our home, is in a bubble. It is all connected. It is all dependent. We can become the careful citizens we need to be. It’s starts with you. Take the time to educate yourself about the climate and ecosystems under pressure from our impact. Bring your family together and commit to knowing and reducing your carbon footprint. Take the time to communicate to businesses and governments that you want sustainability to be their priority too.
The collaborators of the Arctic Arts Project are right there with you, along with so many dedicated, brilliant people, working toward a sustainable future. It’s a big undertaking, but we can do big things, if we set our minds to it. So, onward, to a beautiful future, for our children and our planet.