Since the beginning of time (Or at least, 2016), people all over the world have asked themselves the same question – what in the world is going on in the US? Is it something in the water? Is it Florida? Is it the crushing capitalism chewing up the working class and spitting all their money onto the ever-growing mountain of shit the 1% sit on like the princess on her pea?
Probably the latter.
Regardless, one incident in the tragi-comedy we know as the ‘presidential election’ struck me hard, and after two years I am still not over the outrageous stupidity of this utterance, and the lack of any sort of awareness that it betrays. I am, of course, talking about Donald Trump’s claim that, and I quote: “Climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.”
Let that sink in. Really savour it for a moment.
Now, we don’t have time to unpack it all, but what I do want to address is that arguably the most powerful man, on the planet, genuinely believes that climate change – the very thing that has already cost millions their homes, their health, their lives – is nothing more than a hoax invented to harm ‘his’ economy.
All I could think was: How can someone who is at the centre of so much wealth, information, and power in the world still believe such absolute nonsense?
The answer is, shockingly, quite simple. It’s because climate change does not affect Donald Trump. Does not affect any of the high and mighty of our society. They sit in their high castles where the flood can’t reach and talk about how it’s still snowing in New York, like that is somehow a more compelling argument than the experiences of billions, the irrefutable evidence that scientists from around the world have gathered, and the looming presence of nature’s destruction at the hands of humanity.
The concept that the rich are unaffected by the suffering of the poor is, of course, nothing new. A tale as old as time, in fact.
The only thing new about this particular development is that the fate of literally all of humanity, of the entire earth, is up in the air and not coming down any time soon. And in no way is the Earth to blame for this, either. She’s just doing her best, trying to sweat out this nasty virus called humanity that keeps hacking away at her ecosystem.
Indeed, this situation is actually a picture perfect example of dramatic irony. Those who are most responsible for also those who happen to be doing least to respond to the impending doom.
Roughly 71% of climate emissions can be traced back to only 100 companies. To their sponsors and supporters, their shareholders and boards of management. It is surely not surprising for you to hear that not one of those people run the risk of losing their millions because a tsunami hit their home. They’d just move to their winter mansion for the time being and complain to tweet about the cold. It seems that the much invoked concept of personal responsibility is limited to the poor, and never the rich.
So there really is only one conclusion to draw here: capitalism and climate change are inextricably linked. As long as the rich still get the most profit from their destructive strategies there is no reason at all to change those strategies.
Sounds pretty hopeless, right? Like the best route of action right now is to just move into the woods, build an ark, Noah-style, and leave the rest of humanity to its fate.
Here’s the good news: there is another way to break this cycle!
That’s right, it’s us. The consumers. The little people like us are what makes and breaks the market. Ever heard of supply and demand? Yeah, vague memories from high school are probably flooding in right about now, so let me elaborate.
It’s really quite simple: companies supply us with what we demand. So if you really like almond milk and buy three cartons every day, there’s always going to be three more cartons waiting for you in the shop when you come in. Imagine you stopped buying those cartons after a while, though, because you found out that producing almond milk takes up more water than any other cow milk alternative. These cartons would pile up at the shop. And at some point, the shop would stop ordering new ones, because they’d no longer profit by selling almond milk.
So, put that same concept to use in the big picture. Get yourself some solar or wind energy. Buy locally at the farmer’s market if you can afford it. Take more public transport. Buy some oats and make oat milk yourself instead of buying almond milk (it’s a lot cheaper and quite simple). And most importantly, inspire others to join you.
It is a fact of life that not everyone can afford to buy an electronic car. A lot of people also might not be able to afford plastic toothbrush alternatives, like those made of bamboo. But every single person can make the world a little better by taking jute bags instead of getting plastic bags when shopping. Every single person can take the bus, the bike, the train as much as possible.
And the most important thing any person can do to improve the state of this earth is to inform others, inspire them, and motivate them. You might not be able to change the most corrupt forces of the earth by standing against them alone, but you sure as hell can move a mountain or two if everyone joins you in your efforts. Everyone can do something, no one is powerless against this threat…as long as we come together to act.
Because we are the ones who hold the power and we see what’s coming and if those who are at fault refuse to listen, then we’ll just have to get their attention another way.
With any luck, winter might just be coming again.
Maischa was listening to Basic Instinct by The Acid while writing this piece.