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Inside Beat

How trivial legislative action on climate muddles our minds

 – Photo by Matan Dubnikov

When I was walking home from one of my classes, I decided to stop and smell the roses. It felt like any other summer night as the cool breeze forced its way into my lungs, helping me to breathe a little deeper. Everything would’ve been perfect until the realization that summer weather is still here and it’s the end of September hit me. 

Fall should be on its way, but humidity seems to stay. My mind couldn’t keep telling my body that climate change isn’t real. There are shortages of water in India, hurricane after hurricane destroying homes and communities across the world, pollution destroying the quality of air, but our world leaders are still politicizing climate change’s destruction and our planet’s pain. 

Last week, the world’s largest economies and largest polluters did not make any new commitments to work collectively in order to fight against climate change at the UN Climate Action Summit. 

“The United Nations Climate Action Summit was meant to highlight concrete promises by presidents and world leaders to wean the global economy from fossil fuels to avoid the worst effects of global warming … (yet) China made no new promises and the United States said nothing at all. A host of countries only made incremental promises," according to The New York Times.

The conversation around climate change and the need for us to change the way we have been consuming the Earth’s resources has been one that was started long before 2019. Scientific data has been there since the 80s, and one summit after another has worked to bring world powers to the table to have a conversation — which mainly hasn't led to substantial action. The question that arises is one of truth and accountability.

We have known now for decades that we are destroying our habitat and that we must change our course of action in order to leave our children with a viable planet and future. Yet, most world leaders that have called for action have worked to constrain their action plan strictly to political goals that were comfortable with their constituents and donors while denying the scientific facts at hand. It begs the question of what the facts are in this age of “alternative facts,” where, despite concrete scientific evidence, the reality is warped to the goals of those in power. 

The topic of climate change has existed for so long in this realm of “truth,” “fact” and “fiction” that many people are simply confused about what the climax of climate change will look like. 

"People are generally worried about global warming but the influence of climate skepticism where people don’t believe climate change is a threat to society influences society and the people’s perception on the issue as a whole," according to a scholarly source. When there are so many contesting opinions, articles and sides to a story, it gets harder and harder for people to find a solution when we, as a whole, cannot agree on what the problem is. 

There are many facts around climate change floating in the atmosphere, in congressional hearings and public policy initiatives. Except not all those facts are widely agreed upon by all people since an individual’s perception of threat and reality is directly influenced by their personal background, values and socioeconomic status. The forces of climate change are also intertwined with systems of oppression in the world. How does one bring down a system when all those functioning in it don’t experience the same reality? 

The question of facts goes out of the window when your truth cannot match another person’s truth. There are too many questions that have no answers but for the many people who will suffer the plight of climate change first, they’re struggling to even make their demands heard. 

There’s only one question left to answer: When does fact become fiction? Is it when those with power decide that the lives of other people aren’t important enough to be saved the same way theirs are? We as a society must come to understand that despite our personal realities and political agendas, our planet is telling us that it cannot breathe, and we keep trying to decide if it’s telling us the truth. 

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