Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 14, 2020 by Erika Browning
We have all heard the warnings. Personally, I can’t remember a time in all my 42 years where the big “what ifs” weren’t on a constant loop. What if we don’t loosen our grip on fossil fuel? What if we don’t find alternative energies? What if we don’t recycle & continue to fill up precious land with our garbage?
My questions go a bit deeper. As an expat living in Europe, I was utterly shocked at the lengths people go to to try to turn back the doomsday clock on climate change.
Imagine how baffled I was when I learned that not only are Europeans, (Germans specifically) willing to work towards saving the planet, they are adamant about it. Don’t dare try to stick a plastic bottle in a regular rubbish bin. Car not up-to-par on emissions standards? You’ll be needing a new one that can pass muster. I took trains all over that magnificent countryside. Fields of solar panels lined the tracks in several regions, side by side with fields of hops or vineyards. Modern windmills generate energy, dotting quaint farms that don’t look as if history has touched their walls in centuries.
Coming from a lifetime in the United States, specifically a city that was quite literally built on a giant oil well, I’ve fully experienced the rabid grip this country has on its oil. As I write, I am looking across the river at massive refineries, smelling the by-products & seeing lights flicker as workers pass by. When an organization does something like offering up alternatives to oil, the whole state gets fired up. This is people’s livelihood! This is people’s land that has provided for them for well over a hundred years.
These are people whose whole lives have revolved around oil: whether it be production, sales, manufacturing, or, of course, consumption. I suppose the difference between here and Europe could be something as simple as “cultural history”. But I believe more strongly that most of the reasons that Americans are so opposed to change is information related, whether accurate or not.
We all can agree that something must change. Someone, somewhere must find a way to point their fellow countrymen in the right direction. But how? Let’s start with education. For the next several weeks I will be sharing some ideas, both large and small scale, that you can use as a consumer to make a positive change. I will be dutifully researching various methods that worked elsewhere and finding paths to apply those same methods in this incredible country.
Whether it’s setting up a recycling program in your area, or petitioning for charging stations for electric vehicles, we will come up with some easy ways to make changes to your community, and maybe some ways that will be met with some resistance but also with the tools you’ll need to get these ideas in play.
We have to do better. Our kids and grandkids deserve to live life in a safe environment that won’t be detrimental to their health and well-being. It’s time to start caring about the planet we are leaving behind, in fact, it’s past time.
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