Why Bother Saving the World?
In the scientific community, there is almost no dispute about the existence of global climate change and its causal relationship with human activity. Since the industrial revolution, humans have been releasing copious amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, effectively blanketing the earth. Arctic sea ice melts, sea temperatures rise, glaciers retreat, vegetation changes.
We have sprung changes upon the natural world in a short amount of time, giving plants and animals little time to adapt. We have a history of arrogantly exploiting the natural world.
In the grand scheme of things, we’re at a moment where we’re faced with a challenge: to care about something greater than ourselves.
This increased awareness of global climate change and sensitivity towards energy consumption has, in part, been a catalyst for progress in renewable energy. Priorities are shifting and gradually we’re seeing public policies reflect this change. It’s these policies that are helping solar energy compete with fossil fuels (which are also subsidized). Truthfully, most people are motivated to adopt renewable energy because it saves them money. People go solar to cut back on their electric bills and see a solid ROI.
But is there something else beneath the surface that motivates us?
Are we just rationally self-interested “consumers” or are these decisions, at least in part, informed some higher emotional faculty?
What are our underlying motivations for taking on the challenge to reduce our carbon footprint on this planet?
Our worldviews bring about a set of values in response to the crisis of global climate change. We obviously care about this planet we call home, but for what sake do we care?
Some wish for a clean environment because of your vested interest in the survival of their children and descendents. Perhaps you believe that the earth and all its resources are ours for the taking, so we must change our consumption habits in order for humankind to endure long-term. If people are not conscientious of environmental behavior now, humankind’s means for survival can be cut short in the future. These types of worldviews are most consistent with more human-centered, Western ideologies.
Alternatively, your concern for the well-being of the planet could be rooted in a concern for life as a whole…. a more nonhuman-centered worldview.
Do you see inherent dignity in all living things who deserve to live and thrive? This view is consistent with deep ecology. Deep ecology is the view that all life has value apart from utility and humans are one of many species that warrant consideration.
Because you are currently reading this blog, I allow myself to presuppose that you are, for whatever reason, compelled to care about this planet.
Why do you care?