There are different opinions about the causes and effects of climate change and whether or not there is anything we can do to halt it. Some people believe that there is little point in efforts such as recycling and installing energy saving light bulbs as such initiatives are too insignificant in comparison to the scale of the problem. However, with climate change causing such drastic issues such as food shortages around the world, surely any effort we make to slow it down has to be worth the trouble.
Climate change is a modern controversy, which gathers an opinion from nearly every person walking on the planet today. In his article, entitled Why Bother?, Michael Pollan discusses the futility of our situation on Earth, and questions why it seems worth us trying at all when our efforts seem so insignificant; he opens his essay by stating how ridiculous it is to ask us to change our light bulbs in pursuit of a solution: “the immense disproportion between the magnitude of the problem [Al] Gore had described and the puniness of what he was asking us to do about it was enough to sink your heart.” (Pollan). While Pollan has a point that it seems impossible for our efforts to live up to the magnitude of the climate change problem, ignoring the issue and failing to even try is like sentencing future generations to death.
The second article, written by Bryan Walsh and entitled Climate Change and Farming: How Not to Go Hungry in a Warmer World, addresses how climate change will impact upon our lives on a daily basis: through our eating habits and access to food (Walsh). One area where the two articles both focus is on how selfishly we are all approaching the problem of climate change.
Pollan goes so far as to refer to his “evil twin” on the other side of the world who intentionally goes ahead without any regard for his carbon footprint and asks: “So what exactly would I have to show for all my trouble?” (Pollan). Equally, Walsh focuses on the issue of how climate change will affect our ability to eat properly. He states “Climate change might hit us in the most vital place of all – the dinner plate.” (Walsh). As Walsh discusses, food shortage is a major problem. Human beings starving to death has to be one of the more serious effects of climate change that we have so far seen. In itself, this evidence proves that we must continue to tackle climate change in whatever ways possible, and however small these measures may seem.
It is clear that materialistic attitudes have, as a species, have got us into this situation in the first place. Our selfish views of wanting to have a car each, wanting to eat cheaper food grown in a country several hours plane ride away, and wanting to create a warmer climate within our homes, have shown little regard for the planet that we call home, and it has been taken for granted that we will just always be okay. The focus of these two articles emulates our attitude as a species: we take and take from Earth but have only just begun to give back and according to Pollan, it is too late: “whatever we do manage to do, it will be too little too late.” (Pollan). It is clear that we, as human beings, have abused our planet for an extremely long time and we are now paying the extortionate price for our actions.
Unhappily, Pollan takes the view that it is pointless to try and do something at this point. He even goes so far as to say “Whatever we can do as individuals to change the way we live at this very late date does seem utterly inadequate to the challenge” (Pollan) and it is this attitude which has caused us a problem in the first place. Walsh’s article does not necessarily agree entirely with this pessimism but it does argue that we are not “stepping up to the challenge” (Walsh). Walsh feels that we have become extremely good at feeding ourselves but that the increase in global warmth, rain fall and, by contrast, drought, will affect our ability to grow food proficiently and will, consequently, mean that will stop being capable of fending for ourselves. He also discusses our abuse of food: “the world is simultaneously home to 1 billion hungry and more than 300 million obese people” (Walsh) – a fact which is, undeniably, selfish of us. On the whole, it is clear that we are not making the best use of our resources; we over-feed the rich and under-feed the poor. It is this selfishness that over-rides anything positive that we have done during history; if the planet begins to fail to sustain human life, it won’t matter that we’ve invented all this fantastic technology and carved out our own civilisation, we won’t be here to enjoy it any more.
Pollen believes that there is little to be gained from our efforts to fight climate change, whereas Walsh contends that we simply need to increase such efforts. As problems such as food shortages are already increasing, it seems obvious that Walsh’s view is both more valid and more positive.
Ultimately, it is clear that these articles agree that we have created a significant amount of damage to the planet and that it is our selfishness that has caused this. Walsh identifies this through his discussion of our greedy food consumption, whilst Pollan takes it one step further and argues that we are so selfish that it is pointless for any one person to try and make a difference given that there will always be several more people who won’t bother at all. The shared view is clearly that we are our own worst enemies and arguably, this is irrefutable when we examine how human beings treat their home: building cities, driving cars, seeking constantly cheaper resources. We have pushed our planet to its absolute ends through our on-going desire for bigger, better and faster things, and are now, for the most part, refusing to take responsibility for our actions. Our greed and dissatisfaction has driven us to this point and our selfishness will be our ultimate downfall, in the end.
While climate change is a vast problem that can seem out of our control, any attempts to improve the situation have got to be worth trying. It is true that our efforts can seem inadequate compared to the scale of the issue. However, with such desperate results such as food shortages causing starvation, we should all adopt Walsh’s view and step up our efforts even more.
“Climate Change and Farming: How Not to Go Hungry in a Warmer World.” Time Science. Walsh, Bryan. 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 26 Feb. 2012.
“Why Bother?” The New York Times Magazine. Pollan, Michael. 20 April 2008. Print