DISCLAIMER BEFORE READING: I am in no means supporting the negative effects of global warming, simply touching base on a minority view point. Also it is known that global warming increases extreme weather, but the overall effect of global warming results in an increase in average global temperature, especially in colder climates. This basis will be used for this blog.
It’s early December, the setting is Ann Arbor, by this time the ground is usually blanketed in white snow, but not this year. A lack of precipitation is not the cause. It has rained here, but the weather has not been cold enough to freeze the rain into delicate snow crystals.
Growing up in Michigan, I was accustomed to my thanksgiving festivities being marked by ice and snow. I vividly remember, how slippery the steps were leading up to my Aunt Debbie’s porch, every step had to be taken with caution. Year after year it was like this; frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall were the norm during thanksgiving. Around this time, I was a freshman in high school; and our class had just watched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. I remember how persuasive Al Gore’s arguments were, how desperate his cries for change were and how urgent the need for action was. Our education was just becoming more and more tailored to the changing environment and we were just now learning the steps we can take to improve it. But, it would be hard for us, as high school freshman to try and make a change in the environment. We would not be able to see any rewards for our actions, at least any time soon. Then, we were young and immature; and we would need immediate gratification to make a drastic change in our lifestyles. But with the environment there is no immediate gratification. In fact, by being more eco-friendly we may never see the environment get better, but rather impede the environments deterioration. We didn’t know when global warming would occur, we only knew that change was required and we had a chance to make a difference. Would we be able to make this difference?
Flashback two weeks ago, its thanksgiving, the weather is cool, but not too cold, there is no snow or ice on the ground. In actuality, there hasn’t been snow on the ground during thanksgiving since my freshman year of high school. Recently, winters have been arriving later and ending earlier. There were days in the middle of January which broke records with their high temperatures in the 60’s, something, that would have been unheard of in past years. Nobody can be sure that this is related to global warming but the coincidence is striking. As a country we have progressed a lot, since I’ve been a freshman in high school, but we are yet to make a big impact on the environment. A sign showing how far we still have to go.
Here in Ann Arbor, a campus that is pedestrian friendly, there is no forgetting that winter is here. The frigid temperatures, the unbearable wind, and the everlasting snowfall are all constant reminders of the season at hand. At times, with taking into account the windshield, temperatures drop below zero degrees, and any out door activity is advised against. There have been no days like such. This year, the first snowfall came later, temperatures have been habitable and winter hasn’t seemed like the same winter that I was accustomed to growing up in Michigan (while winter officially doesn’t start until December 21, snowfall accumulation and large temperature drops usually occur in early November). I can’t say that I’m eagerly awaiting winters arrival. Is anyone?
The point that I’m trying to make above is that, generally, people do not have enough intrinsic motivation to start changing their daily lifestyles to help the environment. In colder places of the world, like Ann Arbor, people are going to be less determined to change their lifestyle because some of the consequences of global warming will benefit them in the short term. Even if global warming did increase extreme weather, and in turn make the winter harsher, it is unlikely people will attribute this to global warming. If we want our environment, and our atmosphere to be functional for coming generations, a new method needs to be devised.
A great philosopher, who was often discussed in our class, Thomas Hobbes, viewpoints can be applied directly to this situation. Hobbes believed that humans are selfish, only interested in their own self-preservation even when it comes to the cost of others. Take the situation of the environment, people wont live a more eco-friendly lifestyle (especially in colder climate zones) because it is inconvenient to their daily routine, thus they are hurting the resulting generations. Hobbes would not be surprised at all by this. If one wished for the environment to change, Hobbes would likely advise that the government install legislation that would force citizens to live a more environment conscious life. This is because he doesn’t believe the average human is selfless enough to be able to make such a radical change on their own. He also believes that we concede our rights to the government in exchange for our life, therefore giving the government power in most situations.
So what message is trying to be conveyed from this blog post? That we should stop caring about the environment and allow the consequences of global warming to take its course? Absolutely not. I for one believe that the environment should be a huge priority of ours and change needs to stem from within, immediately. But, if global warming means shorter winters and warmer temperatures here in Ann Arbor, then for some the truth may not be as inconvenient as previously thought to be. Thus, decreasing their desire to help the environment. I believe, if we want to get serious about the environment we should follow the advice Hobbes would’ve given us. A big enough impact can’t be made without any government involvement. We need to begin to pressure the government to make regulatory laws that will radically change the way that we live our daily lives.