This is a difficult post to write. But it needs to be said, if I want this blog to grow, and if I want people to know what it is I believe in and want for our environment.
One week ago, I was working at an urgent care clinic. I was fortunate enough to work with one of the doctors I thoroughly respect- someone I see care for patients as though they are his family.
The day was slower than normal for urgent care, and we had some downtime to talk. We discussed his background in medicine, how he ended up here, how he chose this area to raise his family, and so on. The good stuff. Then, we started talking about the more serious aspects of health care, including how he feels about America’s current health care situation and the Affordable Care Act, and how things could be improved, and why family practice is so important. As the conversation continued, I don’t even know how this seemingly normal discussion turned so quickly. He dropped the bomb and said, “I just don’t believe climate change exists. I don’t think the evidence is there.”
He gave several stated facts that he felt supported his reasoning, including Al Gore’s investments into environmentally friendly technology, many of the predicted effects of global warming according to “An Inconvenient Truth” have not come to pass yet, and that he felt like much of this was “virtue signaling”- which he explained to me was people publicly expressing opinions that would show their good character, and which also widely appealed to popular opinion. He also said he had yet to find sound articles and studies proving climate change, and as a doctor, he believes that this should be based in pure scientific fact, not as a general consensus belief among scientists.
I was blown away that such an intelligent, kind physician was saying these comments about climate change. Doctors are scientists in their own right- they complete small scale (and oftentimes large scale) informal and formal evaluations of information and patient care every day. They continue to read articles throughout their career and do their own research individually. How could someone so educated and well rounded not believe in something as well known as climate change?
For much of this, I was too dumbfounded to answer. But finally I asked him what I know to be true- “Even if you don’t believe in climate change, do you really think its okay to pollute our planet the way we do?” To which he responded that he loved nature. He loved taking his kids into the woods, he loved that he lived in an area now that had so many trees, and he had an organic garden he tended to each summer. He then said “If I had a gallon of gasoline, and I dumped it into my neighbor’s yard, that would be wrong of me. Nothing would grow there again. It would be wrong to pollute in someone else’s space.” I think he was trying to make a point that there was a difference between pollution and climate change, but I honestly didn’t get it.
Because the thing is, they are one in the same.
How can we expect to continue to dump tons and tons of gasoline onto our planet, and for things to ever grow again?
How can we deplete our forests, run down millions of acres of land for farming, or overfill our landfills and expect our environment to not become toxic?
How can we continue to treat Mother Earth in this manner, as though this will not come back to haunt us one day?
I went home from the shift, and tried to think of ways to prove to this physician that climate change is real. As a medical professional, I have a large amount of access to educational materials and current research that would allow me to do this. I could spend the next few days, and evaluate studies demonstrating direct correlation between how we treat our planet and the effects of this mistreatment on Earth.
But the truth is, I’m not sure it would matter.
We know the research exists. This isn’t a fake news matter- this would be a worldwide deception, which just doesn’t seem likely. At all.
The point of me writing this on my blog is this- we have to start trusting what we think is right. What makes sense to you? Does it make sense that most scientists believe that the climate is changing at a pace much more rapidly than previous periods in history? Does it make sense that this would be a universal hoax? Does it make sense to continually pollute and destroy the environment, with no consequences at all?
Personally, I have rarely encountered a situation in my life where there weren’t consequences for my actions. I do know that when I haven’t followed what I believe in, or when I have been too easily swayed by a person who was louder or more charismatic than I was, that those were times I was most disappointed in myself. I do know what makes sense to me- and I know why I am writing this for you to read.
Start thinking for yourself. If you’re reading my blog, your “why” probably has to do with a similar desire to help sustain the environment, in both small and big ways. But you have to know why you believe what you believe, and have the ability to take a hard look at how you came about your initial conclusions. You don’t have to have huge public arguments or be the loudest person to get your point across. You just have to know your why. My “why” usually comes from a gut feeling, and I need to watch that and become more knowledgeable, for when this topic comes up again (as I’m sure it will for at least the next 42 months). I will work on providing this for you too throughout my writing.
John Robbins, author of “Diet for a New America” and would be heir of Baskin Robbins (except he gave it all up when he saw how much of a toll the dairy industry takes on our health and environment) stated a perfect quote the other week. He said the following, which is completely relevant to the topic today-
“Save the Planet” is an oxymoron. The planet will still be here, no matter what we do to it. But if we don’t do something now, we will make this planet unlivable for the human race.”
Although childless now, I would like my future children and the children of my family and friends to have a planet they can sustainably care for and live on. I want our upcoming generations to care for the planet we have been blessed with. I want them to learn how to care for themselves and the environment surrounding them.
If we don’t teach them sustainability now, who will? If we don’t teach ourselves sustainability, how can we do so for the generations to come?