If you’ve been watching the news at all, you’ve heard about the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan. Millions have been displaced. Over 1,300 people have died. It’s hard to estimate the impact on the economy at this point, but it’s likely that much of the population will be facing extreme hardships for a long time to come.
Many of the news sources reporting on this catastrophe have quoted scientists who believe that this extreme weather event is linked to climate change. The horrible irony is that Pakistan produces only a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, and yet it’s suffering some of the worst impacts.
Who are the biggest culprits when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions? China and the US are the top two nations pouring CO2 into the atmosphere, but even though the US is second in overall emissions, its per capita emissions are about twice that of China. Within the US, California has over 14 million registered vehicles, far more than any other state, and the vast majority of them run on fossil fuels. Of that 14 million, over 7 million are registered in LA County.
So we definitely need to take some of the responsibility for the climate crisis. But we shouldn’t waste time feeling guilty. We should get to work on changing the situation. There are a number of things we can do. We can start by driving less. This could mean taking transit to work one day a week, or carpooling with a friend, or if your job allows it, working from home when it’s convenient. We can also try to minimize the amount of plastic we use. This may sound easier than it really is. Many of the products we use in daily life are made of plastic, and so much of what we buy comes wrapped in plastic. But if you start thinking about it, you can probably find at least a few items that you can do without. And if you shop on-line, it’s important to consider the way things are packaged.
But we also need to support legislation that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is the hard part, because there are powerful interests targeting bills intended to curtail the use of fossil fuels. This year the Western States Petroleum Association and the California Independent Petroleum Association used their clout to either stop or weaken a series of bills that were written to address climate change. Capital and Main lays out the gory details in this article.
We shouldn’t be discouraged. We have clout, too. According to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, 80% of the state’s residents say that climate change is a serious threat to our economy and quality of life. That means an overwhelming majority of California voters understand the gravity of the situation. We need to let our representatives in Sacramento know that they should be listening to us, not the fossil fuel lobby. If you don’t know who your representatives are, use this link to find out.
We need to think about how climate change is affecting our lives in LA. We need to think about how climate change is affecting the people of Pakistan.
We’re all in this together.