Updated for the occasion of Earth Day 2020... Thirty years ago Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about climate change. Now the effects of climate change are already here. One thing you can do right now is to educate yourself by reading climate change books.
There’s a reason why it feels slightly futile, if you’re thinking about climate change, to turn off your lights when you leave the room, or keep your heat low. The changes needed to reverse climate change are needed at a fundamentally higher level of society and government. In his necessarily and intentionally alarming book, David Wallace-Wells writes that “individual lifestyle choices do not add up to much, unless they are scaled by politics” and that “climate change is what a theorist calls “a ‘hyperobject’ —a fact so large and complex that, like the internet, it can never be properly comprehended.” In his very first paragraph, he lays out the rationalizations we hear all the time—climate change has been going on since the Ice Ages, that the burning of fossil fuels is the cost of economic growth—but then he points out “more than half of the carbon exhaled into the atmosphere...has been emitted in just the past three decades.” We are already experiencing the effects of climate change and, at this point, there is no possible way it is not going to get worse. We missed the window in which to turn this ship; the iceberg was spotted in 1967, when the term “global warming” was coined. We need to be very alarmed.