Harold Fritts

Oct 7, 2021

6 min read

Address Climate Change, Now!

The message shouted around the world continues to be: Address Climate Change! Sadly, this subject is seldom addressed and often overlooked. The youth of today are changing the rhetoric, with their voices getting louder and louder. Their tone is defiant and direct.

It’s not like no one was paying attention to this crisis. In the ’60s, there was a focus on ending a war that the government had conjured up. There were riots and protests against further escalation of an unwinnable conflict. In addition to the front-page headlines, radio stations were playing songs condemning the action in Vietnam. Concerts became the platform for artists to deliver their message to the crowds, hoping that change could happen. Woodstock was perhaps the best-known festival at the time, but there were smaller venues worldwide with the same theme.

At the same time, young people were experimenting with drugs. There was plenty to choose from; pot, mushrooms, psychedelics, heroin, among the most common. Of course, there were plenty of songs with drug use as an underlying message.

The war, drug use, corruption in government were all compelling messages at the time. But there were also the messages around how we were destroying the planet. With all the noise surrounding peace and love, pollution was not the primary concern at the time.

Music was an essential part of life in the ’60s. FM Radio became mainstream, playing music that wouldn’t fit the AM format. The FM format was considered underground radio, with music addressing social issues and politically sensitive tones.

The “underground” artists were considered political activists. Artists like Jackson Browne, Bruce Cockburn, Bob Dylan, CSN, Neal Young, and Joni Mitchell, to name just a few. Those same artists who wrote anti-war songs also composed lyrics addressing pollution and its effect on our lives and, ultimately, the planet. Jackson Browne’s newest release, “Downhill From Everywhere,” continues to amplify the message.

It’s not a new message

The Whole Earth Catalogue was also a popular source of information for saving the planet. It was widely accepted, especially with the university crowd. There was a real effort to reuse rather than add to a landfill. Hippies created communes in remote locales and erected huts from whatever happened to be in the area. The land provided the essentials to live. Some still live in those communes and have no intention of returning to the noisy creation away from their solitude.

Unfortunately, the masses did not pay attention and continued the “use once, throw away” mentality. Recycling was not in vogue unless you were one of the conscientious few.

The abuse continued and probably worsened with the advent of technology and the need to have the newest, fastest, and sleekest devices. Automobiles would transform from simple modes of transportation to massive SUVs, trucks, off-road all-terrain vehicles. Fuel conservation was an afterthought. Fuel efficiency did not exist. At least until there was a fuel shortage and prices climbed dramatically. Those gas guzzlers were parked, and small, fuel-efficient cars took their place. Fuel prices dropped, and out came the Humvees.

Globalization compounded the issue

And, of course, with globalization, there was a steep rise in international travel. Airlines increased their stables and added more daily flights to, well, everywhere. Admittedly face-to-face interaction is essential in some instances, but an international trip for a one-hour meeting seems a bit over the top.

Air travel was interrupted following an air disaster and took a big hit after 9/11. Suddenly, it was not that convenient, and with cost increases, corporations were unwilling to shell out the money for those one-hour meetings requiring international travel.

That didn’t last long, as airlines needed to see greater profits and fill those planes. Prices fell, and travel increased again. It was interesting to see the sheer number of aircraft in the air at any given time.

It was easy to see the damage done to the planet. The carbon footprint grew larger with each passing minute.

As temperatures rose, forests burned, and ice packs melted, the media finally gave more attention to the destruction of our planet. And it was our fault. Sure, there were the deniers, but it was hard to deny climate change when looking at polar ice melting, crumbling into the sea, and watching the polar bear population die-off, not to mention the health hazards to humans.

Wildlife continued to suffer the effects of rising temperatures. Below the surface, coral reefs were destroyed, transitioning from once vibrant, colorful habitats for marine life to colorless formations below the sea’s surface.

With the melting polar ice shelf, currents began shifting, disrupting fishing and affecting fish migration. It is becoming commonplace to hear about cold water mammals ending up thousands of miles off course.

And still, the muted cries went unheeded.

Greta to the rescue?

It took a lone voice from a young girl in Sweden to amplify the message. Greta Thunberg was not intimidated and would not go away quietly. She started a revolution and galvanized youth worldwide to stand up for making changes to save the planet.

Greta placed the blame firmly where it belonged; with government officials. She did not hold back, resulting in protests around the world. Young people, along with parents and grandparents, marched side by side in unison. Local officials helped coordinate demonstrations around the world. It was a true awakening.

Greta addressed the U.N. with a speech that made a massive impact and forced leaders to commit to addressing the warming climate.

Then came the pandemic! Initially, not much changed, but as governments implemented travel restrictions and deaths from COVID increased, air travel ceased, cruise ships became super spreader containers, and visitation, even locally, was forbidden.

Interestingly, after a year of restricted movement, it seemed as if the skies were just a bit bluer, trees and grasses were greener, and lakes and oceans were more pristine. The lack of motorized vehicles could have been a turning point around the world. Maybe this pause in travel would give us the incentive to address how we move around and what is considered necessary.

Or not! Once governments lifted travel restrictions, the flood gates opened. Airlines filled the seats on the planes. Cruise ships started boarding passengers, and although Zoom was still a significant source of communication, international travel resumed. There have been some hiccups along the way, and movement is not at the level before the pandemic; However, trips continue to increase locally and globally.

After all this time, it seems there should be a greater understanding of climate change’s effect on the planet and its causes. That is not the case, at least with most government officials. In the U.S., the president is attempting to address climate change with a bill referred to as the Infrastructure Bill.

There appears to be some confusion among members of congress about what the infrastructure entails. A significant component of the infrastructure bill is addressing climate change. By managing the entire failing infrastructure, the president is addressing climate change. Eliminating bits and pieces from the bill will ultimately affect how climate change is or is not affected.

Everything we do affects the climate

Senator Cory Booker spoke about this during an interview/conversation with Mother Jones Food and Agriculture reporter Tom Philpott. Sen. Booker addressed how agriculture affected climate and was passionate about addressing the issues in the industry.

To recap:
• Climate warming
o Deadly fires around the world
o Polar ice melting at an alarming rate
o Oceans warming resulting in altered sea life migration
o Coral reefs killed
• Wildlife extinction
• Insect habitats destroyed
• Continued growth in carbon footprint
• No real agreement on an action plan
• No coordinated, green energy intrastate or interstate plans.
o Need to build more walkable cities
o Tax vehicles in major cities to reduce traffic

There are opportunities to address climate change and pollution, but it will take a concerted effort on a global scale. COP26 will convene in Glasgow this month (October). The schedule is impressive. The Youth4Climate group met at the end of September in Milan. The conference runs through October 31. If interested, look for details at https://ukcop26.org.

“COP stands for Conference of the Parties. Parties are the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — a treaty agreed in 1994 which has 197 Parties (196 countries and the EU). The 2021 conference, hosted by the UK, together with our partners Italy, in Glasgow, will be the 26th meeting of the Parties, which is why it’s called COP26.”

It would be unfair to put the burden of mitigating change solely on the shoulders of our youth. We have all contributed to this disaster and, people of all ages must get active now!

Another source of information on climate change is Inside Climate News. Their website is chock full of information on clean energy, politics, and science. The website is www.insideclimatenews.org. Mother Jones, www.motherjones.com, provides excellent coverage of climate change along with many other topics.

Harold Fritts

Harold Fritts

Just a hippie hoping for peace! Avid traveler, tech lover, writer, former, and hopefully future, journalist. Everyone should have a Golden Retriever.