The truth is that individuals can and do make a difference.
By Dr. John J. Hidore
September 6, 2015—-I have been writing and talking about the massive and unexpected results of global warming and climate change for decades. The reaction I receive from some people varies from laughter to absolute denial of the existence of global warming and climate change. There will always be deniers! More often when I talk with people about climate change, they tell me they believe it is taking place, but as an individual, there is nothing they can do about it. I understand because I often feel the same way. My response is to suggest that, not only can they do something about it, but only when enough individuals demand action will those in power respond!
Education Against Destructive Policies
The truth is that individuals can and do make a difference. If you can get a number of individuals to work together, you have a group. In today’s world individuals can identify and join others in ways not possible a decade ago. The internet and social media allow individuals to find people with similar interests to work together, even if they are separated by long distances. If you can educate just one other person of the reality and consequences of following a destructive policy, such as denying global warming, you have made a difference! If you convince even a few people to change their position you have created a group to support your position. A group can make a difference! In communities a group can make a difference on policies and if a number of groups with the same goals come together you have a crowd. A crowd can make a difference in a city, county or state. When crowds in different locations combine their efforts, it is possible to change national policy. In this manner individuals can turn into a crowd in an unbelievably short time and make a big difference on political and economic decisions.
Here’s an analogy: If enough molecules of water combine they can form a drop of water. If enough drops of water come together, you can get a cloud or a lake. The ocean covers the majority of our Earth’s surface. Even the global ocean is formed from individual drops of water! Similarly, sand dunes are made up of individual grains of sand.
Defending Your View: Making a Difference
There are situations, time after time, when individuals have taken steps that have grown enough to force change. Everyone belongs to what I call a tribe. The tribe may be a religion, a country, a political party or some other group defined by a common interest. There are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in many areas of interest. For instance, there are such groups on climate change, civil rights, theater and animal rights. Making a difference simply means taking action. Taking action means defending your view in your tribe. This is often difficult because, as an individual, you may not want to risk your inclusion in the tribe. This is especially true if the bonds within the group are family or workplace.
Earth Day, The Kyoto Conference and One Million Women
There are many examples of individuals starting an NGO, non-governmental organization, that are currently making a difference. To bring the focus to climate change, we have the creation of Earth Day in 1970 and the work of Senator Al Gore, who helped save the Kyoto Conference from ruin and formed the organization on climate change that became national and, subsequently, international, the Climate Reality Project. Another good example is “One Million Women” (see posting dated July 13, 2015). This group was started by two women after a discussion over coffee. They based their organization on the recognition that the choices women make could add up to a big difference in reducing waste and pollution. Their goal is to grow the group to one million members. By September of 2015 they have enlisted over 218,000 women to work together!
It becomes more important every day that global climate change needs to be addressed now! The evidence of the changing climate is overwhelming. Every year produces more evidence of the changing global system and the increasing stress to the human population and all other living things. It is essential that each of us become a part of the growing sea of the people demanding action to keep climate change and its consequences at a minimum, so future generations can inherit a healthy planet. We can do it!