Climate change is perhaps one of the most widely debated and misunderstood topics in our society. The truth is this: Climate change is real, and it is the responsibility of humans to not only acknowledge this truth, but to actively engage in protecting and maintaining the Earth and its abundant resources. The simple act of accepting humanity’s role in the destruction of our planet is not enough to effectively implement change.
In our social-media-centric culture, it is not uncommon for individuals to share personal anecdotes about the plethora of strategies that exist to combat climate change as it continues to impact communities across the globe. These strategies can range from driving less every week and reducing meat intake to participating in environmental cleanups or donating to an environmental group. These changes are all impactful and constructive; nevertheless, it becomes easy to frame the individual as being responsible for the state of our Earth as we know it.
Climate change does affect people personally (some more than others), but it is also a global problem. Unfortunately, a single individual can not save the Earth alone. Media has sometimes propagated the notion that individual action is the answer; there are countless commercials, articles, amongst other content to support this. This media floods our feeds and minds; so much that it is not uncommon for the individual to feel a deep sense of guilt or regret regarding personal habits that impact one’s carbon footprint.
Nevertheless, it is also worth noting the power distance between the average individual and the more affluent members of society; these are the people who have the potential to use their financial abundance in order to support the plethora of environmental groups and initiatives that work tirelessly to obtain donations and genuine support in order to advance their plans. Large corporations can also fall into this category; companies across the globe have the power, resources, and potential to participate in the eco-friendly endeavors in occurrence. So where are these people as this climate crisis crescendos into an even bigger catastrophe? This is not to say that the entirety of the global rich and their companies are lazily watching the less affluent take on this issue alone; there are numerous big businesses that have swiftly shifted into a more environmentally conscious era. Ultimately, the responsibility we have towards the Earth is a shared responsibility.
Self-awareness about personal lifestyle changes is definitely a positive contribution to environmental efforts, so, yes, the individual does indeed play a role. Yet, while this tactic is somewhat genius in the sense that it reminds people that we are personally affected by the struggling state of our environment and that our lifestyle changes can positively contribute to rehabilitating the Earth, it can sometimes ignore the power of collective action. Fostering communities that collectively advocate for substantial solutions as we work to “undo” or at the very least reduce the harm done to this planet is essential. Just as the individual is not meant to take on this life all alone, we are also not meant to embark on this journey to leave this Earth in better condition all by ourselves. There are opportunities every single day to step outside of ourselves and recognize the utter power of initiating meaningful discourse and collective action in our society. What good does it do to have knowledge about how to give back to the planet that has given life to us, if we do not share it?