Climate change is real, it is current, and it is not only the single largest global threat that every living being on earth will face the repercussions of, but also the greatest burden our generation has to bear.
Understanding that this is an opinion column, what was stated above is not subjective. However, I know it is true. Climate change is not something to have an opinion about, unlike ice cream flavors or a particular person’s political leaning. It is real — and the effects are already catastrophic.
The most terrifying disaster caused by climate change is currently the fire burning down the Amazon region, which is arguably one of the most, if not the most, important ecosystem on earth. Twenty percent of the Amazon has already gone up in smoke, and the fires continue to destroy the wildlife and lives of indigenous people that inhabit it.
The Amazon region fires are political. Brazil’s political leadership has succumbed to the global trend of electing fascist, far-right presidents. His plan to open up the rainforest for economic development has proved fruitful; now the forest that produces twenty percent of the world’s oxygen — which gave it the nickname “the lungs of the earth” — is being destroyed, as is tradition, by the eager greed of capitalist endeavors.
The Brazilian government is not only turning the other way, but President Jair Bolsonaro is flat out encouraging deforestation, as stated by Elizabeth Lawrence in a USA today article.
Adding a humanitarian crisis to the situation, the fires are also going to displace the indigenous people living in that environment. This is something that is understood, politically, as well. That said, this is a prime example of environmental racism - something that far-right politics tend to allude to.
Now, of course we cannot exclusively blame Brazil and its leadership exclusively for this doomsday scenario — the world has been preying on this country’s resources for decades, slowly chipping away at the region. This natural disaster, like the others we have seen recently, is the result of late-stage capitalism and its dependence on a curve in economics that does not function in reality.
“Our global systems, which are designed for perpetual growth, need to be fundamentally restructured to avoid the worst-case outcome,” Jeremy Lent, and a writer Environmental Health News said.
As terrible as this all is, it gets worse. The weather patterns have changed, the ocean is boiling, ecosystems are failing and people are dying.
While large corporations and politicians are predominantly to blame, and have the greatest responsibility (and ability) to help save life on Earth, individuals can play their part as well. The single most impactful thing a person can do to reduce their carbon impact is to stop eating beef, and more to that effect, to stop eating animal products in general (yes, veganism).
That said, big businesses and political motivations have promoted this concept to avoid accountability for their actions, blaming dietary choices of the working class rather than creating actual change. Regardless, even if meatless Mondays aren’t for you, subbing out beef for chicken every once and a while does help.