HOLEY: We must act selflessly to save environment
Opinions Column: The Breaking Point
On Nov. 30, the Rutgers University Executive Committee voted to investigate the possibility of 100 percent renewable energy on campus. The proposal for Rutgers to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 will now go to the Budget and Finance Committee, who will assess the feasibility of the project. For many environmental groups, like the Rutgers Sustainability Coalition, and student groups like the NJPIRG, this is a major win after advocating for the proposal for a long time.
The only problem is that, in the grand picture of the world, this is a very small win and it is far from enough. If you believe the predictions of climate scientists — and I do — then we are moving far too slowly when it comes to adapting to the climate reality we understand.
At the pace we are going, we are on the course toward major temperature increases and sea level rises and sadly, at the moment, we simply do not have the political will to respond to such an urgent crisis. Of course, some people may disagree and say there is hope. It is all simply a battle between optimists and pessimists and I greatly consider myself a member of the latter, at least when it comes to human nature.
To start off, contrary to my more liberal peers, I will still insist that climate change is a currently debated topic in the United States. We all like to believe that others have the same fundamental core beliefs as us, but in fact, you would be surprised by the strange views of those around you. Most people just are not outspoken — especially when they have an opinion that falls within the minority.
To my amusement, and at times my annoyance, the first roommate I ever had was the rare kind of person who would be extremely outspoken about his controversial, uncommon views. At first, he seemed rather logical and intelligent. To this day, I still think he is a capable individual. This does not change that, from my point of view, his logic jumped out a window on some issues. He did not believe in climate change. He also believed, and I quote, “women should be allowed to vote, but they should not vote because they only vote based on emotion.”
I only hope such a story can demonstrate the dynamic array of opinions among our fellow humans and even people you would least expect. Human mentality is such a complex topic that even the statistics we do have — like opinion polling — can easily turn out to be wrong.
During the 2016 election, liberals failed because they refused to account for the fact that President Donald J. Trump's message resonated with millions. Now, humanity is going to fail because we refuse to account for the fact that we are grossly unprepared to combat climate change. Even in America, we have a president who, at least publicly, does not believe in climate change and a public without a definite consensus, as 55 percent of Americans have either little or no concern about how climate change will affect their lives.
If we do, as I predict, fail in the end to take sufficient action in order to adjust to climate change with the goal of preventing it, then we will witness a catastrophe far surpassing what we have seen before. If the sea level rises as NASA predicts, then coastal cities and even entire countries will be at risk. Aside from that, rises in global temperature will cause major droughts and increases in hurricane severity. The combination of environmental effects will cause mass migration across the earth, as different parts of the world are made unlivable.
Will humanity be prepared to deal with not only a changing climate, but also deal with a massive refugee crisis, the likes of which we have never seen before? In America, we already have problems regarding how to deal with a migrant caravan consisting of a few hundred people. Imagine if there were hundreds of thousands of people marching to the border while America would also be suffering from its own major issues surrounding climate change.
We have witnessed throughout history that major crises lead to radicalization — look at Nazi Germany — and it would no doubt happen again. Human nature contains such a fundamental weakness that our currently stable society could be easily undermined by forces of hatred feeding off of the fires lit by a major crisis.
While I personally believe death and destruction await our future, it is not because I think it is too late for us to stop it at this exact moment. After all, the solution to prevent catastrophe is clear: somehow convince the global human population to dedicate immense effort toward combating climate change.
I just believe it is unrealistic for us, as humans, to become motivated enough to do so. Humans will never be able to band together and change the world for the better until it is too late. If we struggle so much in even a developed country like the U.S., then we will struggle even more in developing countries throughout Africa or Southeast Asia. Remember, in the end, countries are still obsessed with competing against each other.
Humans will constantly push and push to be on top, even at the cost of everyone else. Will we ever be able to convince humans to sacrifice their potential supremacy for the sake of the world? We need to try, but honestly, I think there is barely a chance.
Michael Holey is a School of Arts and Sciences junior interested in political science. His column, "The Breaking Point," runs on alternate Mondays.
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