Ed Olmstead: Let’s be clear: The problem is burning carbon

Last modified: Monday, February 10, 2014
To the editor:

I applaud Marty Nathan’s Wednesday guest column in the Gazette, “Carbon-based life choices,” She shares her own conflicting thoughts and feelings about her decision to cancel a planned trip traveling by air due to its significant contribution to climate change. She also speaks of the resistance people she knows have to considering personally curtailing a popular and cherished means of transportation.

It seems to me that talking about the climate crisis by using terms such as global warming and climate change leads most of us to feel that the issue is too big and too complicated for us to address. We can feel that our efforts are a drop in the bucket. However, we are the ones who decide whether or not to buy and use the products that contribute to the current climate crisis. Many drops together form an ocean and without those drops there would be no ocean.

I propose renaming the current crisis in terms that encourage our participation rather than make us think that the crisis is so large that only corporations, governments and experts should bother taking action.

For example, we have a climate crisis created primarily by excessive carbon-burning. If we chose to raise awareness that the global biological world is in crisis because of excessive carbon-burning, wouldn’t that be a description that would foster more individual action? Wouldn’t it seem more doable? Even without general agreement about what the word “excessive” meant specifically, any of us could work to eradicate excessive carbon-burning from our lives.

Ed Olmstead