on the sidelines

I’ve been called an environmentalist for as long as I can remember. But in recent times, I’ve been feeling like a fraud. An imposter. I’ve been interested in environmentalism, but not informed. I’ve been enraged, but not engaged. I’ve bitched and complained and even cried, but I haven’t acted.

Finally, I’ve been asking myself: what side will you be on when we look back on this? I haven’t even picked a team. I’ve been on the f*ing sidelines, along with many in my generation.

As I’ve been trying to come to terms with this, I realized a few things about the environmental movement:

  • Basic sh*t like clean air, clean water, and cleaning up after yourself should be a no-brainer, non-partisan issue.
  • Personal decisions (like recycling) are great, but there must be more we can all do. I’m talking about action with real, tangible impact.
  • There are like 4,000 non-profits out there working on this. That’s hard to wrap your head around.
  • The most influential of these organizations have, in my opinion, limited calls to action. Apparently, we have two choices: we can donate and/or call our congressmen and suggest that they remove their heads from their asses.
  • The politicians will surely kick into gear when their voters demand they do so. But many Americans are confused about whether there’s even a problem.
  • Yet the current elected officials are certainly gearing up to do some real damage. That sucks, but it seems it’s also a great opportunity to bring people together – all people – to defend our environment.
  • Almost all news coverage is doom and gloom and lacks a call to action entirely.
  • In many ways, climate change is taking a back seat right now to many other important issues. I, too, think those issues are important, but I also think that’s a big mistake. To say we need to focus on more pressing problems like inequality is a false dichotomy – there’s no reason why we can’t address both. Further, unchecked climate change will almost surely exacerbate all other major problems, especially inequality.
  • This is a massive problem with massive investment potential. Surely Elon Musk isn’t the only one making green in more ways that one.

As you can see, these realizations have brought up more questions than answers:

  • What’s at the bottom of the partisan divide?
  • Beyond donating and calling my senator, what are the actions I can take?
  • What do all the non-profits do? Is there overlap in their efforts? How effective are they? Will my donation make a difference?
  • Why are so many people confused about whether there is even a problem?
  • What about the progress being made? Are there wins we can celebrate? Or should we all just give up on this hopeless effort right now?
  • What about business opportunities?

I’ve realized I can’t answer these questions on my own. And when I figure out what actions I can take that make difference, I probably shouldn’t do that on my own either. So I’m committing to sharing this journey with any fellow commoners who will join me by signing up for my new email newsletter – The Commons.

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