History & Culture
Evidence shows that a majority of the anthropogenic, ecological, and environmental damage to our planet has been done in the last 150 years (1). Since the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution, human activity on Earth has resulted in a significant increase in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, from around 280 parts per million (ppm) to over 410 ppm (1). In addition, in the past decade, these ever-increasing emissions have led to the seven warmest years on record (1,4).
We often hear that the climate crisis is ‘human-driven,’ but what does this mean? Negative environmental practices are built into our daily lives, from the way we eat, to our methods of transport, to our consumption of resources. It is easy to downgrade the impact that any one person can have on the planet when looking at the entire population of over seven-billion, but it is important to recognize that the lifestyle choices we make have a significant collective impact on our Earth (2).
This is not an accusation, or a way to place blame on any individual; instead, it is a call to rethink the choices we make as a nation of consumers and voters. Our present social, political, and economical structures have evolved to value short-term profit over long-term prosperity, and it is this mindset that we need to reconsider. To reduce our global carbon footprint with enough significance to make lasting change, we must adjust our economies and our traditions through meaningful action at the personal and legislative levels (2). To achieve positive climate transformation, we need to not only see the climate crisis as a collection of scientific facts, but understand that this is an issue that was created through the development of human society and technology; therefore, the issue of climate change can only be solved through the reinvention of those very same societies and technologies (3). For individual citizens, this should be viewed as motivation to pressure governments and corporations into prioritizing the climate and providing environmentally-friendly options for its citizens. Proactive steps include helping to make climate-related information available to all, making environmentally-conscious shopping choices, and keeping our environment in mind during elections.