How To Stop Lying To Our Kids About Climate Change
It’s not easy to lie to your kids. What am I supposed to say when my son comes home from school and tells me with great excitement that he’s learning about recycling and how it can save the earth. I smile and agree with him but I know that I just lied to my son. It leaves me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Left to their own instincts, politicians are failing us.
Climate induced inflation is causing widespread suffering as average people struggle to make ends meet. Crop failures and rising food prices seem to be a new structural reality of our broken system. People are rightfully angry as financial pain descends upon them and politicians seem unwilling to use the tools at their disposal to ease their hardship. The media glosses over the role that climate change plays in this tragic story and instead, parades an endless stream of out-of-touch billionaires across our screens with their deluded words of wisdom.
Democracy is floundering. Society has become increasingly divided and demagogues are racing in to fill the void. We must come to terms with the source of our climate and social crisis — a predatory and exploitative economic system that incentivises environmental and social harm. A system that works for the few at the expense of the many. Only when we accept the problem will we be able to find a solution.
Like It Or Not — We Need Government Leadership
We tried to let the private sector lead us and it turned into a greenwashing extravaganza that Kermit the Frog would be proud to lead. The time has come to accept that a stable climate will require a rapid reduction in environmental destruction and the only way to achieve this, despite how distasteful it might sound to some, is with government leadership, regulations and laws. Are there risks involved in giving the government so much power? Absolutely! This decision should never be taken lightly, but at this point no matter how much we want to bow down to the almighty dollar to save us, if we don’t do something meaningful, very soon, (don’t confuse positive with meaningful) things are going to get very painful for all of us.
We’re Lying to Our Children
People are scared and they don’t know what to do. We’re told that we can be part of the solution. We’re told to recycle, walk to work or carry a reusable mug. We’re told that we can buy our way to a stable climate with “green growth” ideas like electric cars, solar panels and slightly less harmful “green products” but these actions are having no measurable impact on our environmental emergency…and we know it. But it’s not easy to live with the fear of a collapsing climate, so we pretend that everything is OK. But the fantasy is beginning to break down as we can no longer suspend our powers of observation and ignore what’s happening around us. We can no longer ignore that our summers are brutally hot, our winters are erratic, rivers are drying up, crops are failing and we’re being hit with punishing inflation. At some point we have to accept the truth about our toxic system and demand better of our politicians, if not for us, then for our children.
Connecting the Dots Reveals the Truth
For decades we’ve only been told pieces of the story. The magic of renewables and electric vehicles. How recycling can reduce environmental impacts. How public transit will dramatically reduce carbon pollution. The mainstream media and our politicians have become experts at zooming into one issue at a time without talking about the big picture and how it all fits together.
Think about extreme weather. We’re given almost daily snippets about the impacts of climate change and the spectacle of nature’s wrath but we’re never told about the predatory system that’s at the root of the problem. The conversation is never allowed to develop. We never zoom out to look at the big picture…but that ends now.
No choice consumption leads directly to climate change which leads to personal pain.
When the dots are connected we can clearly see how a broken system which gives us little if any choice to do less harm leads directly to environmental chaos, and from there it’s only a short step to our own personal pain. It’s really just that simple. No choice consumption leads directly to climate change which leads to personal pain. And as the structural failures of the system build upon themselves — the cycle speeds up. Our pain doesn’t level off, but rather, it builds every year as things get worse and worse. But this doesn’t have to be our future. We the people have the power to push for a better world.
Geographically-Targeted Political Movement
Climate Change is a global challenge that won’t be solved with individual action or waiting for miracle technologies. These are distractions. We need a massive shift in policy at a global scale. Human-made borders mean nothing to the planet’s failing ecosystems. Politicians that fail to deliver meaningful policies are impacting us all and they will soon learn that their countries’ elections are now OUR elections.
We will align people and show the world the power behind our united voice. We will be clear and forceful. We will lead a geographically-targeted (roving) political movement that will descend upon every government in the global north that is up for re-election. We won’t ask, but rather, we will push, indeed demand, that politicians take aggressive steps to achieve meaningful and timely climate action — regardless of political affiliation.
Politicians who don’t comply will find themselves looking for other work. Those that do will have a mandate for meaningful policy that will finally drive the necessary change. There is no time for political manipulations, cover-ups, delaying, and other tactics that are leading us down a dark path.
The climate is a global issue. Regardless of where we live, we must unite and push every politician to take meaningful action.
Now is the time to stop lying to the children.
This article is also published on the author's blog. illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.
Cover image: creative commons
About the authors
Brad Zarnett is a Sustainability Strategist, Writer & Speaker based in Toronto, Canada. His research explores how business as usual capitalism fails to protect environmental and social capital, and what we can still do about it. He manages a Substack Community, and can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Ian Kaplan is the Founder of TheClimateSavers and the Co-founder of the Climate Awareness and Policy Change Group (CAPCG). He is an executive entrepreneur at heart with significant experience in the startup ecosystem, including the fields of climate change, renewable energy, fintech/insurtech, and digital health. He is passionate about ventures that aim to improve the health of our environment and our community.