I get emails from people, every so often, asking what I would say and feel if I was wrong about climate change. What would I say if, after dedicating years of my life to bringing attention to the problem, I found out there was no problem.
Well, first, of course, I would praise God in thanks that we have no catastrophe to contend with. Then, since many of the measures needed to deal with climate change have a lot of positive benefits, I will think:
- I am glad we created 5 million or more new jobs here in the United States in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable generation.
- I am glad we created a culture that relies less on foreign oil, so that our children can live secure lives, knowing that the energy rug can't be pulled out from under them.
- I am glad we have found a way to save people and industry billions upon billions of dollars by making the use of energy more efficient.
- I am glad the millions of children who suffer from asthma can now breathe easier thanks to the fact that we aren't pumping the air full of toxins from our exhaust pipes and smokestacks.
- I am glad that, by no longer burning oil and coal into our air, we've put an end to acid rain and the devastation of our aquatic life.
- I am glad that we created good, reliable, fun-to-use public transportation system so that families no longer have to raid their budgets to pay for cars and gas.
- I am glad we've stopped building suburbs, which make people unhappy and [thanks to the happy suburbanites who wrote in] are designed for cars not people, and instead build villages where people can have strong community bonds that help make life fulfilling.
- I am glad we now have fuel-efficient automobiles.
- I am glad that we've learned as a culture to get off the work-more-to-spend-more treadmill which gobbles up resources and leaves us unfulfilled and instead turned to a way of live full of meaning and purpose.
- I am glad we developed local, fresh food systems that care not just about filling bellies but what we put in those bellies.
- I am glad that we have rejected the philosophies of survival of the fittest and competition for resources as driving philosophies and have instead embraced a philosophy of compassion and justice.
- I am glad that we have understood that a sustainable society cannot work without supporting all of its people and that we looked for and found ways to improve the lives of everyone.
- I'm glad that we've come to see people rather than things as our most valuable resource and that, in embracing the respectful and loving principles of not wasting, we have learned not to waste youth in prisons but instead to get them help for their drug addictions and alcoholism.
- I am glad that, in realizing our resources are limited, we have come to use them to do what is important and to help each other rather than compete with each other.
- I am glad that we have come to see education as the ultimate in sustainable industries.
- I am glad that we have developed distributed, renewable energy technologies that allow kids in all parts of the world to have electric light so they can learn how to read.
- The list goes on and on, but in short, I am glad that we have embraced the opportunities presented by the crisis of climate change in order to improve our society in ways we should have done anyway.
And now, to turn the question back on those who say that either there is no climate change or that it is not a serious problem:
What would they feel if we did nothing about climate change and they turned out to be wrong?
What would they feel if we buried our heads in the sand, ignored the problem, and then irreversibly damaged the planetary habitat that we depend upon for our health, happiness and security?
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.