Tick, tick, boom!
Fossil fuels continue to undermine our support for planetary life, accelerating the extreme weather and wildfires that surround our Earth. It is painful to see people, wildlife and forests losing their lives, homes and habitats.
Although I am encouraged by the increase in the use of bicycles, walking, carpooling and public transit, each mile of gas burned emits an average of about 404 grams of CO2. If your car is running at 22 miles per gallon and you’re driving about 11,000 miles per year, that’s a personal contribution of 4.6 metric tons of CO2 per year. Tick Tick Tick….
Yet with few news stories continuing to link our demand for fossil fuels to our ability to survive their impact… It’s easy to believe there’s no real problem here, even as we struggle to mitigate longer summers. longer, hotter and deadlier.
And we know how we got here. The auto industry has done such a PR job of linking freedom to driving, we’ve built our urban habitats around the automobile, making it very hard not to drive. Yet the longer we allow coal, oil and gas companies to dig and burn, the more the impacts of the climate crisis will continue. With every fraction of a degree of warming, we will see and suffer more extreme heat, droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes.
To be fair, the fossil fuel industry continues to thrive because it has a powerful lobby that secures subsidies to keep our addiction to petroleum cars, planes, jets, and boats solid, easy, and attractive, especially if you live and work in transit deserts. ‘ which also lack safe pedestrian routes or easy carpooling options… so CO2 emissions keep rising.
This leaves our individual/collective/cultural choices at the forefront of accelerating extreme weather events as the fossil fuel industry continues to dig, burn and profit, with minimum liability and maximum profit. Tick tick tick…
While the emergency requires enormous cultural pivots, each of us can intervene:
1) Vote with your money on what and how you buy, transport and use energy. Do a lifestyle assessment and see if there are other ways to reduce fossil fuel use (each step helps
2) Tell the truth: extreme weather is not a “crisis” that just happens to us; it is a crime, and our addiction to fossil fuels supported by federal subsidies is reason 0.
3) Speak up: The media (including anyone with a voice on social media) can influence better choices and keep this urgency in mind. Share what you are doing to reduce your consumption.
Together we can make it “Cool to Care” and stop the countdown.
Jacquie Chandler is Executive Director of Sustain Tahoe whose mission is to develop, educate and facilitate the adoption of the principles of geotourism for destination stewardship and responsible travel.