Climate Change: How Would You Act If Your House Was On Fire?

For decades humans have known that we are driving climate change.  And for most of that time, it’s been clear that unless we change our ways, the planet may become largely, if not wholly, inhospitable to humans as well as many other plants and animals.

The experts tell us that we’ve reached a tipping point.  We cannot reverse climate change any longer.  The best we can hope for is to stop the progress and mitigate the damages we’ve already wrought — the impacts we see now as well as those that are already in motion due to current actions.

Concretely, the United Nations warns us that we will experience hotter temperatures, more severe storms, increased droughts, rising ocean levels, loss of species, not enough food, increased health risks, and increased poverty and displacement.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What are you willing to sacrifice?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What do you believe?’

Our house is on fire.

It’s been burning for quite some time.  But the fire, until fairly recently, progressed slowly.  Not so any longer.  The pace of climate change has been increasing.  And every year, it seems we need to recalculate the rate of change to faster still.   To stop the progress and mitigate the damages will require immediate changes to the world, national, and local economies; more sustainable agriculture practices; assistance to struggling regions of the world already seeing life-threatening impacts; sustainable technologies (old and new), and dramatic changes to our personal lives.

While some advocate for the necessary immediate changes, the dominant view appears to be kicking the can down the road. We convince ourselves that new technologies will save us or that younger generations will take this seriously and enact needed changes. So, we’re either pinning ourselves to shallow hope or acknowledging that the pains of change are not ones we will initiate.

We should expect more of ourselves.  How would you act if your house was on fire?  Because it is.

Related questions: How is climate change impacting you? What is keeping us from sustaining the planet? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

3 thoughts on “Climate Change: How Would You Act If Your House Was On Fire?”

  1. Because of climate change, our house — the Earth — is literally and figuratively on fire. Fortunately, there are many things we could do systemically and individually to slow and eventually stop the burning. I’ll focus my remarks on the third most impactful thing we could do: stop wasting food! The National Resources Defense Council reports that nearly 40 percent of the food in America goes uneaten.

    USDA relays that “When food is discarded, all inputs used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, and storing discarded food are also wasted. Food loss and waste also exacerbates the climate change crisis with its significant greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. Production, transportation, and handling of food generate significant Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions and when food ends up in landfills, it generates methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas”

    Landfills are filling up with food for many reasons. Yes, households throw a lot of food away. But so do restaurants and cafeterias as well as grocery stores (when the produce they receive doesn’t look pleasant on the shelf).

    So, again folks, if you’re concerned about climate change, stop wasting food.

  2. “The Tragedy of the Commons”, a term first used by Garrick Hardin in a 1968 book, has been on my mind a lot lately. He used it in ecological terms, but I think it relates to many troubling divisions in our society, regarding freedom of the individual vs responsibility to the broader community. I’m trying to relate it to your question this week, as in whether I can protect my rights to prosperity and happiness as far as I am able without doing harm to others or the common interest. The tragedy is that it is so difficult considering human nature being what it is.

  3. Almost half of the air pollution in the Twin Cities is caused by cars, truck, and busses. Better mass transit will help. A few months ago I was introduced to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the form of the new Orange Line from Burnsville to downtown Minneapolis. I hope it catches on; we can use ten more of them in the next few years.
    In the meantime, I’m considering trading in my old car for a newer model hybrid car that gets much better mileage. I’m also walking to the neighborhood strip mall instead of driving.

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