Some Thoughts about Climate Change, Courtesy of the Generation Who Will Have to Deal with It

tree silhouette“Because it’s hard.”

The wisest and truest words of the entire evening, from 17-year-old Bryce.

I spent some time this past week in conversation with a dozen or so of our high school youth about climate change. I was curious what they thought about it.

I asked lots of questions and did a lot of listening. I wanted to know if they thought it was real, if they had any sense of urgency, what they were doing about it personally, what they thought the larger community should be doing. There were moments when someone expressed a sense of hopelessness; “I’m only 15; what can I do about it?” Mostly, they believed that we’d figure out a way to turn the tide. And there was also a sense that the burden of the challenge would fall on the shoulders of their generation.

They pretty quickly came to the realization that our thoughts and attitudes about climate change are not matched by our behaviors. Intellectually, most of us are coming to the realization that climate change is real. And that there are no easy answers. And that there are a lot of big players out there who do not have much incentive to change. And that every last one of us individually has the responsibility to change our behavior. But we don’t.

So, I asked the group, “Why is there this disconnect between what we believe is true about climate change and our lack of change in behavior?”

That’s when Bryce spoke such true words. “Because it’s hard.”

Bingo. That’s why I still drive my car the two and a half miles from my home to church instead of walking or riding my bike. That’s why our family still buys most of our vegetables, even in the summer, instead of turning our front lawn into a garden. That’s why I don’t give a second thought to hopping on a plane to go visit my aging mother a couple of times a year.

My behavior multiplied by millions of people who have the resources to live pretty much the way we want and the way it’s convenient doesn’t bode very well for turning the tide of climate change. I’m afraid that the changes that we need to make are ALL hard, and we are not used to living like that.

So, what would it take to change our behavior?

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