What have I done in 2020? Part 2 -- Becoming an environmentalist

I have heard of climate change on the news for years and I believe it is true. However, I looked at it and I looked away. There always seems to be more pressing issues -- How do I get a permanent position in the academic world? Why this or that girl does not like me?

It was only until this pandemic so I had to stay at home that I thought -- maybe it is time to look into some real important things, like "what should I do with the rest of my life", or "is the world going to end". So I began to read about climate change.

Ironically, another reason I actually began to read about climate change is that a friend of mine is a climate change denier. I suspect that I felt a bit dumb when I could not answer his challenges to the basic facts of climate change.

My reading list includes

The Uninhabitable Earth

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells -- If you want a wake up call, this one is loud and clear.

The Weather Makers

The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery -- The part on climate science is still sound 13 years after its publication.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg -- Young people voice gives you some hope.

Six Extinction

Six Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert -- A beautiful elegy for all the spaces that have disappeared and will almost surely disappeared in the near future because of human activities.

I have also watched a few quite good documentaries on climate change

Two podcasts on climate change that I like are

So what have I learned? I learned that climate change is real, and that is happening right now in my life time, and that if nothing is done in the next 10 years, we have a good chance to see the end of civilizations by the end of this century. And what the deniers are saying are blatantly superficial. (A good source to debunk climate change denial is the website SkepticalScience.com) And this article on New Yorker Magazine by Elizabeth Kolbert (the author of Sixth Extinction) summarizes it better than anything I can write.

So why climate change is not the headline of every newspaper everyday? Why students are not required to read about it in every school on earth? Why are we even talking about movies, books and TVs? Why the world came to a stop with virus that killed 1.3 million people yet ignored climate change that may kill millions if not billions?

Why am I not talking about it with everyone I know even after I have learned all these things?

I suspect that maybe the future is so bleak that most of us choose to not to think about it and enjoy our life when we still can. The ship is sinking, but we have time for another glass of wine. And bringing up climate change to people who are intentionally looking away perhaps is only going to make them unhappy. And I don't want people to be unhappy.

This is why I like Greta Thunberg. She did not look away. And she did not want any of us to look away either. She pointed her finger at every single one of us and asked "Hey, WTF have you done to this planet?" And I am too shamed to answer.

The past is gone and I cannot change it. But I can decide what I do in the future. Now when I do laundry, I dry my clothes naturally. I have also become a vegan since the beginning of this year. I will try to avoid buying anything new from now on. I will never own an automobile, electric or not. I will probably have to fly a few more times in my life, but I will never fly for vacations again. And when I have to fly, I will buy CO2 offsetting credits.

Some may say "Oh that's a lot sacrifice." I don't feel like that. I feel that I really found something that worth to fight for. And that makes me feel peaceful.

All these does not amount to much. But I like what Peter Singer once said

More than ever, I think change can come only when sufficient individuals decide to change their own lives.

I cannot not decide anyone else's life. But I can choose how I live my life. And I choose to change it.