According to numerous scientific reports issued this week, the major glaciers that are part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet have officially become destabilized. This will result in the slow, but eventual, high rising of sea levels in which many coastal cities (if not all) will have to be abandoned. Now, for the general public, this isn’t even news. If anything, it’s more doom-and-gloom, why-should-I-care-NOW reporting about an issue so huge, so overwhelming, that the average Joe and Jane couldn’t even fathom tackling it (or caring about it). That issue is climate change, of course, and for humans to continue to progress or exist, we should at least try and care about it.
If you’re like me, you saw the Ice Sheet news come through dozens of social media posts from numerous organizations promoting a more sustainable planet, like The Climate Reality Project, the filmmakers of Chasing Ice, Greenpeace, Mother Jones, and 350.org. Because we live in a time when we choose what news we want to know about (and/or believe?), the reinforcement of our beliefs and things we’re passionate about from our chosen news deliverers fuels our anger, joy, sadness, and so on. But try inspiring a friend to change his eating habits based on factual data that eating meat or dairy is more harmful to the planet than most other foods. That human-fueled agriculture and industry are accelerating human-caused climate change. That these things are part of the reason there’s a hole in the ozone layer – which hovers over the aforementioned melting Antarctic Ice Sheet. What if this friend lives 2000 miles from the nearest rising sea? Well, then, communicating urgency can be a major feat.
When I write for the promotion of human progress, I don’t mean multiplication. One surefire way to alienate a large portion of Western society is to tell people they need to slow down with the procreation. Right now it seems perfectly acceptable to have two children, one to replace you and your significant other. Anything more than that is taxing the planet. More people equals more consumption and less room. More consumption equals more environmental havoc. So, human progress means a better informed human or one that is more connected to the natural world, so as to care more about the only planet we are able to inhabit. It’s difficult to get humans to change their habits and alter their lifestyles, but what if we generate an emotional connection to Earth with something that has become the leading lifeline for thriving in a consuming economy: money.
350.org‘s Fossil Free campaign is a brilliant harbinger for getting us off fossil fuels. It is a worldwide movement for city and state governments, colleges, religious institutions, and even individuals, to divest their financial interests from fossil fuel industries. This path to divestment includes fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds. The campaign urges organizations to stop promoting the exploration for new hydrocarbons (including natural gas via fracking, which we know causes big problems), the halting of lobbying for oil companies in Washington, and keeping current reserves in the ground forever. So far, schools like Stanford University and cities including Boulder, San Francisco, Dunedin, Providence, and Seattle are committed to divestment. Imagine: entire cities removing money from fossil fuels. Our money. Your money.
The Fossil Free Divestment movement isn’t a marketing ploy to get people to care about climate change. It’s more of a communication tool and educational method for a better informed public. It’s connectional intelligence. When our money is tied to industries that poison fresh drinking water, create toxic air, unfairly alter elections, and crumble economies, then the most logical and reasonable action is to remove that invested money from those industries. Our economic system was never designed to coexist with the natural world; only for it to thrive on the consumption of resources and manufacturing of goods. Well, those nonrenewable resources are being depleted (not to mention being dirty and harmful). And we are already seeing how many cities hold up to the natural world’s floods and fires (they don’t). I’m divesting. Emotionally, physically, and monetarily. Care to join me?
Josh Valentine is Digital Communications Director at Promenade Media. He works with clean energy businesses and climate action groups in crafting messages and spreading literacy about renewable energy adoption, emerging energy technologies, fossil fuel divestment, and the global warming emergency. Josh is an active member of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, regular volunteer with Clean Energy Action, and writes and speaks about hearing loss awareness. He and his Bulldog, Bagel, live in Boulder, Colorado.