Handle with caution and care

Marc Kennedy, Staff Writer

America prides itself on individualism above all other things. And for many important social issues that face our country and the world in general, it is that same individualism that allows us to freely engage in political dialogue and come up with individual solutions to our collective problems.

More than anything, the fact that we come up with our own solutions is exactly what drives our individual freedoms, but it also can lead us to disastrous ends.

The problem is that when we are told to do something, we as a nation inherently just don’t want to do it – whether it’s good for us or not.

National independence is a vital aspect of citizens’ individual freedoms, but sometimes Americans just need a swift kick in the pants – especially when it comes to environmental issues.

Somehow, one of the most fundamentally scientific issues has been transformed into a political one, and one in which the politics completely abandons the science. But there must be a reason underneath it all that some people are favoring this growing trend of “climate denial.”

The first approach is just ignoring the facts or distorting the evidence in an attempt to justify one’s lack of proper response. We do this on a social level as well as a personal level.

We fool ourselves into thinking that we look and feel better than we do in order to continue eating unhealthy food and avoiding regular exercise purely because we don’t want to change our ways.

At the end of the day, we know deep down that we need to change, but we just don’t have the motivation. However, we certainly don’t kid ourselves that our cholesterol numbers don’t mean what they actually mean or question what our doctor is telling us.

So why do we kid ourselves that the scientific evidence for global warming is insubstantial and believe that our climatologists are conspiring against our well-being?

Another possible approach is to create the illusion that we fully understand the complexity of the facts. How is it even possible that anyone without an in-depth understanding can even  begin to understand the science behind global climate change, let alone challenge it?

All it really takes is a little humility – the ability to say that all-important little phrase, “I don’t know.” But for whatever reason, people just don’t want to admit that they don’t have all the answers – it certainly doesn’t help your ratings.

And that’s one of the biggest problems that brings us back to that hardheaded American attitude, which is in each and every one of us; we don’t just want to hear answers, we want to hear our answers.

 If you really stop and think about it, admitting imperfection is one of the most liberating things you can do for yourself; if you claim to have all the answers, you better have some pretty effective solutions to back it up. And if those solutions show some good results, you’ve got some explaining to do.

That’s the kind of infinite conceit we end up in time and time again. We have a serious political privilege as Americans to voice our opinion on any issue. But that fact that we can say what we want does not mean that our opinion is right.

There is no wrong opinion, but there are definitely good and bad ones. The difference between the two is how much evidence there is for support, and as of right now, all the evidence is on one side of this issue – the side for reform.

The only practical response against environmental action is pointing out the cost, but what are we saving that money for if we don’t even have a planet we can live on to spend it?

We may only have one ego, but we definitely only have one planet – let’s handle it with caution and care.