Humans are rapidly taking themselves and the planet’s diversity of life to the brink of existence. As a species we have stumbled along for a short time, 0.01% of the time of earth’s history. Yet, singularly, our species is on pace to eradicate the vast majority of life that shares the one small planet we call home.

The overwhelming scientific consensus (97% of actively publishing climate scientists) is that human activity has affected and continues to affect the planet’s climate. The climate changes realized are significant and increasingly deadly. If unaddressed, the specter of a planet hostile to existing life forms will be realized. Life forms, which have been lucky enough to survive our assault on air, water, and resources, will succumb to the ultimate human affront—extinction. Our actions going forward will not soon affect the carnage currently being brought about by human-made climate change but would serve to mitigate future damage.

Yet as the clock ticks to a climate meltdown, there is inaction on the part of government to address the issue. Their decisions to do so are not based on science or statistics—indeed many deny the dangers exist—but on political donations. When it comes to public policy, money holds sway. With plump political coffers, politicians fiddle as the planet burns. A sixteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, said it best: “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.”

We are unique in our ability to consciously affect the sustainability of life. The choices made personally, statewide, nationally, and globally will be inherited by generations of humans who will follow.

Americans will have a chance in 2020 to help sustain our planet’s livability. We have a chance to elect those who will embrace policy and actions to heal a wounded planet. We can deny man-made climate change deniers victories. Ignorance and apathy about environmental issues can no longer be an option if we are to pass on a livable planet. Need an incentive? Look into the eyes of a child: They are the ones who will inherit our actions. Are we collectively up to the task? Time will tell.

Tim White

Town of Springdale