As far as I can tell, my life has been unaffected by climate change. I got rained on by Hurricane Matthew at a wedding in North Carolina. And Seattle had an unusually dry winter a couple years ago. These events were surely the result of climate change, but I otherwise haven’t felt any immediate consequences. It’s ironic that the area in the United States most affected by Climate Change is the Southeast—more frequent and intense hurricanes, flooding in Florida, etc.—and they seem to be the least vocal about it curbing it. Meanwhile in Seattle everything seems fine on the surface, yet we’re much more activist.
Part of the problem is that Climate Change has been politicized. Generally, people on the Left think humans are responsible, whereas people on the Right don’t. Even though most climate scientists say that humans are the cause of climate change, many Americans remain unconvinced—it’s like another reality. However, it’s questionable that even if every day Americans rallied and wrote to their Congressmen and Congresswomen, it would move the needle.
A study by Princeton professors Gilens and Page found that a policy backed by voter opinion had an average chance of passing in Congress of 31%. If it was not favored by the public, the chance of passing fell to 30%. Further, bills supported by the richest 10% of Americans had a 65% chance of passing. And bills opposed by the rich, but with the support of the public, had basically no chance.
I wish that things individuals can do—recycling, taking shorter showers—could have a meaningful impact on the climate, but they don’t. We need to make changes at a much larger scale. It was encouraging to read the New York Times article about Big Business, having seen climate change affecting profits, acting more sustainably. I think to have a meaningful impact on climate change we first need to rebrand it so that it isn’t a political issue. Hopefully, that would give a mass of support to businesses that operate sustainably. Businesses can then influence policy. We can send mean tweets to those who don’t.