Changing Thought on a Changing Climate

"Did you hear about what the WMO discussed today," my friend asks me over the phone during one of our late-night conversations. I suppose my silence caught his attention as he began to roughly explain how national leaders had come together in Switzerland to discuss global warming. Immediately, I stopped him and said, "oh, you're one of those people huh?" Little did I know that soon I too would become "one of those," after countless hours of research. Throughout the years, the topic of climate change has been a controversial conversation in American society. Facts have proven that global warming is increasing, but a lack of apathy from American citizens is continuing to show exactly what its affect could be for future generations. Until a sense of accountability is placed upon the individuals in American society to take back the protection of our planet, the rise of global warming will continue.

There are thirty-two cards, twenty-two streets, four railroads, two utilities, a pair of six-sided dice, thirty-two houses, twelve hotels, eight game pieces and a total of 15,140 dollars included in the game of Monopoly. As players, we are represented by our token of choice that is moved around the Monopoly edge by the roll of two six-sided dice we throw. The object of the game is to become the "wealthiest" player through buying and renting property. While most of the time this "family-friendly" board game is a pure form of enjoyment, I would like for you to take the wheelbarrow or car, whichever token is your favorite, and imagine yourself in the game instead. You start out with 1500 dollars and begin your way down the boardwalk, the only difference is, the game has already begun; you are simply another piece in someone's game. The rush of excitement takes over and you are scrambling for the property that is left. Suddenly, you land on private property and the fees accumulate. Somehow you end up in jail, and when you finally become free, there is nothing else to buy and people have bought your property, you now have no choice but to continue on this "boardwalk" that you call life. How did this happen? You had money, you had knowledge, you were informed on your surroundings, but during that initial rush, one vital piece to the game was forgotten; you were not in control of your moves and now you will forever be ran by big business.

A few months ago, I had the honor of meeting the head of Nasa Science, Thomas Zurbuchen, and many other intellectually intimidating men that a nerd could only dream of meeting by chance. As I began to ease-drop into a conversation that deserved to be a Ted-Talk instead of casual dinner conversation, I finally placed my Italian bread down and tapped Hal Levinson on the shoulder. Shaking, I tried my best to at least sound somewhat intelligent while asking about his thoughts on climate change and how me, a girl from a Baptist-small town, could convince others around me that it is an issue that we have attempt to solve. Dr. Levinson began his comments on how particularly rural areas should be concerned because of the heating of the planet ultimately results in the heating of soil, making the production for agriculture very slim for future generations. Worried that I was interrupting their celebration dinner, I politely thanked him for his time and turned back around with my heart beating out of my chest. After fifteen minutes, with a mouthful of spinach tortellini, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, again literally about to fall out of chair, as Dr. Levinson introduced me to Dr. Zurbuchen. They both began to ask my opinion of what I believe global warming is and my thoughts. After the initial nerves faded away, I sat in awe of what was happening. There I sat with the head of Nasa science and the man conducting the Lucy mission, discussing a matter that I once did not believe in. They told me that global warming is an issue to remain curious about and to hopefully one day find a way to stop it because scientists themselves do not fully understand it. After my discussion, I eagerly called almost every person I knew to express my excitement about my encounter and what we conversed about and the overall question that I was asked in return was, "of all the things you could've talked about, you discussed global warming? "

For several years, the topic of global warming has caused heated debates over its affects and even its existence, especially in America. Ironically, America is one of the leading countries that contributes to increased climate change from human involvement, but political activists, global elites, and the American people, stress that it is either not an issue or they simply do not care. A major problem with the topic of global warming is that many do not fully understand what it is and how it became such a contentious topic in society. Beginning in 1896, a Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius, published his idea of ​​the "greenhouse effect," an idea that is taught in almost every junior high science class. Arrhenius, discussed on the how the human increasing production use of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, would eventually lead to the rise in Earth's temperature, but with as a "striving, top-dog nation" wouldn't it be ridiculous for America to place regulations on an energy source that was creating a boom in their economy? Between the time of 1930 to the 1960s scientists had proven that gas emissions had caused a rise in the earth's temperature each year. When the 1970s came to be, environmentalists began to see the real effects of climate change and attempted to raise public awareness about the topic. American business and individuals that opposed governmental regulations began to falsify scientific reports to "prove" to the public that there was no problem (Weart, 2012, para. 3-14). Never had global warming been a matter of if it existed or if it did, until the capital of certain American individuals had the chance of being lost. The reason why a majority of American society believe that it is a "hoax" is due to the fact that that perception has been implanted in our culture for decades.

I want you to think back to your place in the monopoly game. How it made you feel to know that there was nothing you could do to stop the game from moving on, regardless if you had property or not. That no matter what that "monopoly" is going to win. Now let's take that perspective into real like scenarios. Big business has more control over society than we will ever know, specifically its contribution to the doubts that are held about climate change. In the sixth video of his series, Peak Oil and Climate Change, linguist, philosopher, political activist, and professor at MIT, Dr. Noam Chomsky, addresses "How Climate Change Became a Liberal Hoax." As in the history I stated before, corporations in the 1970s, took it upon themselves to conjure up their own findings of climate change to refute evidence that was provided on global warming. Chomsky, relates this back to present day America. He states how are distrust in politicians, banks, the public, ultimately leads us to distrust scientists as well, leaving climate change as a "liberal hoax" (Chomsky, 2011, The Nation). In America, we have yet to see, or just ignore, the affects it is having around the world. The small beach towns in India having to be evacuated because of extreme flooding, a result of higher ocean levels. The melting of the glaciers in Antarctica, the Amazon forests oxygen levels decreasing yearly. Even matters in our country. The National Glacier Park in Montana that started out with 150 glaciers is now down to twenty-four and its wildlife has decreased drastically. Is it all just happening by chance? Are "liberals" so enthused to "suck up" the nation that they are causing the extreme droughts, wildfires, weather patterns, floods, natural disasters that happen yearly in America? Big business has manipulated society deep enough that we do not even realize that it is happening.

The dice has been rolled and you are granted the opportunity to move three spaces. When you land, your eyes are drawn to the ginormous question mark looking back. You have been given a "chance." With this "chance" you have the ability to continue to let this game determine your every move, or the opportunity to take back control. Throughout our lives, we all have the thought of "someday I am going to change the world," but eventually that dream turns into an idea that never came to be because society told us it was impossible to accomplish. Global Warming is an issue that is hard to understand, "irrelevant" to most, and a major problem to confront due to our lack of understanding of the matter. Since before our generation it has been descaled by politicians and elites, trickling down into our society. As America remains one of the top nations worldwide, it is American individual's responsibility to take control over the process of the transfer to renewable energy. As Chomsky discusses in his interview, America is the world's most powerful nation as of now. Other countries aspire to be like the United States, most of the time, and its ability to influence the world around it (Chomsky, 2011, The Nation). There were several attempts for America to work its way into the main sources of renewable energy, wind, solar, and hydroelectric, by stimulating competition in the economy, that drew the attention of big business by the Obama administration. Living in a capitalist society, the need for competition is infused into us from an early age. Sadly, much of it relates back to constantly grasping for more money and power, leaving no regard for who or what it is affecting. We spend hours scrolling through our news feeds, filtering our pictures, buying the rights clothes or car, but we cannot take the time to learn about what is happening directly to us in our environment.

We live in an egotistic society, so we must go about this solution relating it back to each and everyone one of us. A single 1MW wind turbine has enough power to provide electricity to at least 225 homes. The Environmental Projection Agency studies have proven that just a thirty-three percent switch to renewable energy, will benefit each American individual by 243 dollars in their pockets from their electricity bill alone (Ryor & Tawney, 2014, para. 2-6). While that may not seem like much, also take into consideration what all products are made from fossil fuels, primarily oil; clothing, tires, sporting goods, eyeglasses, paint, roofing, perfumes, hair accessories, toilets, and the list could continue. If the demand for fossil fuels, in regard to electricity and fuel, went down then the price of oil based products would in return be reduced drastically due to availability of it. As of now the demand for fossil fuels is at an all-time high and only bound to increase with the recent implements of governmental administration. What American individuals do not realize, is that millions of our dollars go directly into the pockets of very few individuals at our expense and the planets. Many solutions to this are the usual, public transportation, recycling, turning off and unplugging devices that require electricity, using less water, etc., which do help, but will never completely solve the issue unless you involve the corporations that are primarily responsible for global warming.

Although big business does control many of our resources, we also have the "chance" to contribute greatly to this solution. For now, government grants are in place for individuals willing to start-up renewable energy projects. By creating a spark in the energy market, competition will arise, resulting in an overflowing availability of renewable sources for our society. Besides just individuals, big business has recently plunged its way into renewable energy as well. The two leading oil companies, Shell and Exxon, have announced the beginning of their "series of green investments." With this, "Exxon will invest over 500 million a year into renewables" and "Shell will start with 200 million in acquisitions" (Maclister, 2016, para. 1-10). While big business, due to their capital, has the advantage of the energy market, individuals still have the opportunity to establish more of a competitive market and need to take advantage of that. When renewable energy is put into place and is shown to American society, not only the economic benefits it will produce, but also the reduction of emissions has on our planet, people will have no way of denying our involvement to climate change. American public will be promoting wind, solar, hydro, and the multitude of other energy alternatives because of its profit, but also will be creating environmental awareness without even realizing it. Americans have a duty to ourselves, the world, generations to come, to save our natural wonders, food sources, control, science, the economy, and ultimately the lives of those around us. Imagine what the world would be like if the generations before us said, "it will not directly affect me, so why care?" There would be no industrialized agriculture to feed our over-populated world, no form of transportation to receive the mass products that we "need" in today's culture, or let alone a way to take a "selfie" to "connect" with the friend 100 miles away. Will the oceans have to flood our homes directly to finally have a concern for climate change?

The final roll of the dice has been played and the game is over. You look around and see all of one color engross the board. Luckily it is yours, thanks to that one "chance" card you were granted. You now have full control over what will come of this "game." American individuals have the capability to turn global warming around if we so choose. We could continue to allow someone else to "roll the dice" or take it upon ourselves to make a difference.

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