What some call “climate change” I call climate disruption. The planet is getting hotter, storms are getting fiercer, droughts are getting longer, ice is melting, people, plants, and animals are dying, species are going extinct. We are in a mess, and there is a chance humans will join the parade of extinct species. In other words, this situation is serious.

I have no doubt the culprit is overuse and exploitation, the same instincts that caused the extinction of the large mammals in America when humans first came to town thousands of years ago; that cut down most of the forests in Europe and then later, in America; that overfished the oceans; that degraded the habitats for fish, degraded the habitats for animals; that pushed gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The notions that there are no consequences for actions, that infinite growth is possible, fly in the face of reason and logic. We ran out of large mammals to kill and eat, we will run out of space in the atmosphere for CO2 emissions.

Greta Thunberg has been scolding us for doing nothing to solve the problem, but the truth is most people do not have an idea how to proceed. The World Plastics Council has convinced us to recycle and reuse, but that program just allows continued plastic production while really doing nothing. I pick up trash from the ground every day and pluck it out of Scipio Creek whenever I am on the water. Our landfill continues to grow.

Big government action is necessary, but the political will to accomplish that is much lacking. However, every citizen on the planet can enable climate mitigation to solve the crisis, and I say ‘citizen’ because city dwellers are the greatest contributors of CO2 emissions. We can use less. We don’t need plastic bags at the store, we can bring our own. We don’t need to drive downtown, we can walk or bike. We can reduce reliance on air conditioning or heating; we can drive less and buy locally. We can eat less meat, we can buy fewer clothes and shoes, we can garden, we can use solar panels or wind generators, we can row and sail. We can create a world that does not pollute, does not exploit. Right here, right now, and if the rest of the world continues as usual, at least we tried. And, we will be in a much healthier position when “everything goes south.”

Using less is the bête noire of climate change politics. In the discussions of the Green New Deal, no one is willing to say, “Hey, we have to cut down on using energy.” Conservatives scream about losing their cheeseburgers, their cars. They have a point. Regardless of the pain involved, there is no way sustainable energy could maintain the energy we now consume; there is no way sustainable agriculture could maintain our meat-based diet; there is no way transportation can maintain the kind of globalism we now enjoy. The kicker is that if we continue as now, it will be game over for the human species, if not extinction then the end of civilization, i.e. no more citizens. I choose to live.

Ted Tripp