He wants advice on what an individual can do to help humanity now
A 25-year-old reader of ClimateProgress is at a turning point in his life, and he is asking CP readers for advice.
He posted the comment below in the Open Thread here, inspiring a few good responses, but I wanted more people to see this, so I’m pulling it up into a separate post.
UPDATE: Ian provides more background — and a big thank you to readers — in the comments below here. He has a degree in film production.
My name is Ian and I’ve posted on CP a few times so maybe some of you will recognize me. Since its an open thread I’ll throw in my personal dilemma and hopefully its not too off-topic. I may disagree with some people here, but I trust all of you. I think we’re all deeply concerned and perhaps scared about our collective future.
I’m at a crossroads in my life and I don’t know what to do. It has taken me a while to fully accept the reality of our world and our ecological crises. But I think I get it now. Human beings have been destroying the environment for a long time and we are showing no signs of stopping until we reach a point of collapse. Most human beings in the world have little to no understanding of the situation we’re in. Even a stereotypical liberal-type may understand and accept the reality of climate change but has no understanding of the urgency required to address it or the underlying (insane) economic system driving it and many other modes of environmental destruction. Its all really, really, really sad and heartbreaking.
So, I don’t really know what to do with my life. I’m 25 and I had a lot of goals and dreams I wanted to chase but I’ve now given up on them because I realized our civilization is imploding. As Joe (and many others) have said numerous times, it is our moral responsibility to act. I want to do something significant and daring. I tend to lean toward acts of high risk for some reason but its something I’ve done throughout my life and I’m uncomfortable doing things people expect. I am not well suited to canvass or make phone calls working for an environmental organization because I think these actions are ineffective though important in their own way. I’m also thoroughly unsatisfied with improving my personal sustainability. Again, reducing one’s carbon footprint is essential, but will ultimately do nothing to stop our economic engine from burning up everything.
So, I’ve posed this question in different forms here on CP, but what do you guys think I should do? I’m thinking I could chain myself to the White House lawn every day for a year and hope someone from the Administration will talk to me. But thats probably pretty stupid because I’ll just go to jail many times and no one in a position of power will notice anyway. Or I could corner Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow and make them understand what is going on and convince them to only do shows about climate. Also totally unrealistic but maybe its worth a shot just to say I tried. Or I could find the CEO of ExxonMobil and somehow corner him and ask him why he’s so hell-bent on trashing our planet. Also pretty unrealistic. Or I could move to Oklahoma and run for the House of Representatives against any of their current Reps. on a platform of addressing peak oil and climate change. There’s no way I’d win or even be taken seriously but maybe I could shake things up a little and get some publicity.
I know all those ideas probably sound crazy but I would definitely be willing to do any or all of them. The stakes are just too high and I can’t live my life feeling like I’m doing nothing. I’m not at all expecting to go out there and completely change the world. No way that will happen but maybe there is some small part I can play in doing SOMETHING to help our planet.
Also, I have many people in my life that love me and care about me and I’m afraid for their future. I feel I owe it to them to help do SOMETHING.
What do you guys think I should do? Any suggestions? There isn’t a lot of time left, unfortunately.
Ian, I don’t recommend people waste time trying to persuade the unpersuadable. I also think that it is a mistake to shoulder the burden of the false belief that one person can, over a short period of time, make a huge difference. That very rarely happens and when it does happen it’s usually because that individual has been planning for a long time.
It is important to choose a course of action that is itself sustainable. You don’t help anybody if you burn out. The anti-science, pro-pollution extremists work hard to thwart near-term action, knowing that it will disillusion idealists. Don’t let them succeed at that.
You are 25 and have your whole life ahead of you, so if you want to do something significant and daring, I suggest you start by developing a strategic plan that builds on your strengths. That’s what I did a few years ago, which is how I ended up blogging.
But let’s here what CP readers think. Many of them have tackled the same tough questions you have.
UPDATE: The NYT‘s Andy Revkin has offered his thoughts in a comment below and a blog post here. In a weird two-degrees-of-separation moment, the young Pakistani Revkin quotes was an exchange student at Middletown High School, which is where I went to school!