The science behind human-induced climate change suggests that ‘business-as-usual’ will lead us to disaster. I am trying to spread that message. By walking across the country I am doing something far outside of ‘business-as-usual’ and – hopefully – demonstrating that I’m serious about making a change. On a more practical level, walking is the most sustainable form of transortation. Walking is the most intimate way of crossing the country – it will take me face-to-face with many people where we can have one-on-one conversations.
What do you mean by ‘business-as-usual’?
As a society, we have taken for granted the plentiful supply of cheap fossil fuels. As consumers, we tend to get in the car every time we leave the house – even for short walkable distances. We keep our houses very warm in the winter and very cool in the summer. We think nothing of hopping on a plane to cross the country – or the world – multiple times per year. Businesses keep prices low because they rely on cheap fossil fuels for manufacturing and transportation. All of this is possible because of cheap fossil fuels. To breakout of this ‘business-as-usual’ we have to consider the true costs of fossil fuels and make changes accordingly.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I would like to have – at least – 100 good conversations with people from many different walks of life. I will do as much listening as talking. I want to start by listening to people I meet and learn about what they fear; what they question; what they are doing; what they hope to do. I hope to share the same things with them. I am not trying to push for any single strategy or policy change. There are many possible strategies for combatting climate change and no single strategy will be enough. Instead I want to spark more conversations. People need to ‘take ownership’ of the climate change problem. I expect that some of the people I talk to will only need a single good conversation to take ownership. In other cases, I expect that the people I speak to will commit to carrying-on the conversation so that others will take ownership of the problem.
How can people ‘take ownership’ of the climate change problem?
- First, you have to accept the scientific consensus behind climate change. This is often a challenge because there has been a well funded effort to deny climate change science. It does not mean that someone has to get advanced degree in climate science, but simply to accept the science in the same way we accept the science behind disease and engineering – if we didn’t, we would never visit a doctor or take an elevator up a tall building.
- Second, you have to know that what you do makes a difference – both good and bad. It may seem that your individual choices are insignificant, but you have to consider that your activities may be multiplied millions of times. When you start making changes, your activities are more likely to be multiplied if you start conversations about what you’re doing.
- Third, you have to be willing to make fundamental changes in your daily activities – at least those related to fossil fuels. Whether you decide to make the changes yourself or whether they are imposed by public policy, fundamental changes will have to occur to prevent the most dire consequences of climate change. Token activities are no longer enough. Simply driving a Prius won’t solve the climate crisis, nor will recycling, taking mass transit, or writing your senator. We have to think in terms of a world where we leave nearly all fossil fuels in the ground. That would mean a fundamentally different transportation system, agricultural system, and energy system that has little reliance on fossil fuels.