Changing the climate (of debate) | Letter

I have never given much thought to climate change. Shameful, I know. But I’ve never been a very scientifically minded person and with a political climate as polarizing as ours, like so many other important issues of the day, climate change gets filed somewhere between politics and religion in terms of subjects I go out of my way to avoid discussing with other people on a daily basis.

Having said that, the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, the massive earthquake off the coast of Mexico and massive flooding in parts of Asia have touched the lives of far too many people to simply be filed away. So, begrudgingly, I am now attempting to teach myself more about the environmental side of the world we live in and what we can do to help it.

From what little I do know of the subject, I am aware that there is a debate within the international community regarding man’s impact on climate change and what we can do to reverse or at least slow that impact, if it is significant enough to warrant such action. Like so many issues, the battle lines seem firmly drawn, with little room for discussion or compromise. So, I would like to offer one.

What if, instead of debating climate change — an issue people have trouble agreeing on — we focused on other issues we can agree on that ultimately might solve the problem anyway? We can agree, for example, that we shouldn’t litter, that pollution is bad, recycling good and that keeping things clean is generally healthier than allowing them to get dirty. On a grander scale, we can look at what is happening in Flint, Michigan and all agree that the people there shouldn’t have to drink contaminated water. We can see pictures of people walking around the streets of Beijing in masks because of all the pollution and conclude that we would find such conditions unacceptable at home.

If we can focus on the problems we agree on, we can begin to work together on solutions we can agree on as well. Whether they be conservative or liberal, by way of personal choice or through government intervention, we should work together to ensure everyone is on the same page.

If we can accomplish that and do so on a progressively (pardon the phrase) larger scale, then the issue of climate change can be addressed even if we don’t focus on it. If people are contributing enough to make a difference, then we can decrease that as we work on the issues that are a part of the problem. If people aren’t contributing enough to climate change to make a difference, then we’re still making the planet a better place. A little change in optics, and it’s a win-win for everyone, including the environment.

Brian Frisbie,

Everett

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