it’s debatable: normalizing environmental apathy

Olivia Summons, Editor-in-chief

Climate change is the new 2018 conspiracy! Do you believe in aliens, ghosts, an afterlife? Well what about climate change? Let’s consult our soon-to-be president in his early years as the Republican presidential candidate.

“I am not a believer. Unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather,” Trump said.

97 percent of climate scientists insist climate change is real and caused by human actions, while 56 percent of Republicans in Congress deny these atmospheric changes.

This disparity suggests that the topic of climate change is now another partisan issue. With the majority of Republican representatives denying the existence of climate change, this paves the way for a dangerous mental precedent.

Social scientists find that there is a psychology behind the popularity of denying climate change – people seek out information that confirms their beliefs while ignoring information that challenges them. This delves into a more complex question – is it more dangerous to entirely deny the existence of climate change or to just dismiss it as insignificant for the present individual?

The classic dilemma: ignorance versus apathy.

If statistics, projections and analyzed trends are not enough to convince someone that global warming is more than a mere extrapolated myth perpetuated by liberals, then perhaps mass natural disasters will spark a change in thought.

The recent California wildfires resulted in the displacement of over 1000 individuals. While data and research indicate that these fires resulted from shifting rain and wind patterns, record high temperatures and drier land and soil, President Trump tweeted that forest mismanagement is to blame.
Trump later met with Finland’s president to relay the message that in order to prevent fires we should all dedicate more time towards raking and cleaning forest floors. If only those hundreds of family homes could have been saved with a few dozen four-dollar rakes from Walmart.

Yet, those who vehemently decide that their role in the global warming crisis is to brush it (or perhaps rake it) under the rug for the subsequent generations have a crippling mentality.
Indulging in apathy. Not a unique route to take for any number of political or social topics. Gun control, partisanship, immigration, climate change. Just because there is always an option to indulge in apathy does not warrant that option as acceptable.

It shouldn’t have to be your house that gets burned to the ground, or flooded, or destroyed in an earthquake to relate to the struggles others have already experienced. What’s striking is that I have heard “who cares? I won’t be around to see it” uttered from older and younger generations alike.

There’s only so much wiggle room in the mindset of an 80 year old who’s stuck in their ways, but why is apathy regarding the environment so prevalent among youth? With the average American lifespan estimating at slightly over 78 years, it’s a bit too early in the game for a teenager to introduce a lifetime of indifference.

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