“Fight climate change, save the planet.” We hear that all the time and it sounds about right, so what’s the problem? The trouble is that the message doesn’t resonate sufficiently to result in serious, committed, transformative and durable change at the political level. If you are reading this you probably already think climate change is one of the great existential issues of the day, and it is. The catch is that it’s not just about saving the planet. The planet will continue on one way or the other, with or without us. The planet was here before we arrived, and it will be here after we depart. What we should be concerned about is saving the human species.
As a species we are pretty focused on us. So why should we expect a campaign about saving something else, in this case the planet, to resonate in a way that drives real change? For better or worse, to get the climate issue taken seriously, the messaging has to make it more about our survival because that is what gets people to pay attention. And sadly, I’m not talking about protecting our grandchildren or great- grandchildren because we needn’t, and often don’t, look that far down the road. I’m talking about us and our kids. It is time to realize that we, and the people who currently are alive that we actually know and profess to care about, are threatened by the impacts of changes in the climate already underway. We must take action. Our survival, yours and mine, is what is at stake and it’s about time we started to act that way. Until and unless we realize what we are facing, nothing will change.
Regardless of what we do, the planet will continue on. It might be warmer and stormier than it would have otherwise been without us, but it will keep spinning with another mix of life forms on it, different than what we currently have. The planet has served as host to many different life eras and the only difference right now is it is being dominated by a species that seems driven to eliminate the very ecosystems needed for our own survival. In fact, one could look at it from a perspective that the Earth is reacting to rid itself of the irritant causing the changes the planet is experiencing. That irritant is us. The Earth doesn’t need us to save it. We need the Earth way more than it needs us. When you talk to people about the urgency around climate change, think about encouraging them to do it for all the right reasons, and to save themselves. The only way to do that is to take better care of the planet and the ecosystems we rely on for our existence.