A People a Virus?


Many people believe that we should look to a higher being of responsibility to rid the world of pollution and climate change. They say to wait for the politicians, scientists, or people in higher power to create a plan or set restrictions or tell us what to do to stop the spread of pollution. I will tell you right now that is wrong. There is no power great enough to have all of the answers and no one person that will swoop in and save our planet. Instead of turning outward, waiting for help and fighting against each other, we must turn inward to ourselves and nature in order to fix what we have broken. 

For many people the comforting solution to rid the world of climate problems is changing light bulbs and using public transportation. This is a lie. All of the small tasks you can do to “save energy”, and “lower” your carbon footprint is just busy work. In the book, As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial, by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan they claim that these lists are pointless. Jensen and McMillan say that, “the lists are harmful. They give people the illusion that the problems we face are easily solvable(pg. 37).” In the real world the problem is a lot bigger than what most people can even comprehend. In the book the characters are at a loss for what to do in order to save the planet, so what do they do? Instead of looking outward to research new ideas that will lower carbon emissions by a fraction of a percent, they turn inward. The characters asked nature what to do. Yes obviously we cannot ask a bird to find more animals for us and have them talk about their problems, so we have to find other ways to listen. The planet speaks to us in nonverbal ways. 

When the body catches a virus, it is at first indetectable. For example, when the body begins to feel the effect of a virus like COVID-19 it usually takes a few days for symptoms to start showing, this is because at first it is still growing, learning, and multiplying. Later coughing and regular cold symptoms set in however if the sickness gets worse you should, of course, see a doctor. The effects we are seeing accompanied by climate change are like symptoms of a virus. In this case, however, we are the virus. According to “The Science of Climate Change

Explained: Facts, Evidence and Proof” by Julia Rosen the Earth’s overall climate has risen by an average of 2 degrees fahrenheit. This along with the fact that natural disasters have gotten more and more severe in the past 200 years is worrying. All of the effects we are seeing unravel before us that Rosen writes about are the symptoms, now we are put into the position where we, the virus, also must become the doctors. We must be the ones to diagnose the problem and find a solution, the treatment is something that is going to fix and rid the body of the virus in whatever way possible.

One of our main problems as humans is we cannot fully grasp just how large the problem of climate change is. So we stay in denial. People need to understand that our changing climate is a big problem, and if nothing is done to stop it one day the Earth won’t be here. In an article posted in psychology today by Sara Gorman, Ph.D., MPH, and Jack M. Gorman, MD entitled “Climate Change Denial” they write about why people are in denial about our growing climate issue. In the article they say what we are seeing in people all over the world is called “motivated interference.” This means that people are unconsciously biased due to the  impact of their daily lives. Humans tend to be in denial of climate change as the large-scale changes we must make are not convenient, for example, creating a carbon tax on gas to accommodate the damage being done by driving would be inconvenient for people who need to travel. Along with this, people also do not enjoy the idea of large government projects “taking money out of their pockets” for minimizing carbon emissions. While yes it is in our psychology as people for our minds to protect us from a threat so big, we have to find a type of override. By looking at just what we have done to the world we live in, looking back at nature and what we have been destroying, we can start to see how bad we have let the situation get.

What I think could be the answer to getting people to see past themselves, is very simply looking outside. Yes, it sounds weird to say that the answer to the very threatening climate problem is opening your door and looking at nature. This doesn’t make much sense on a larger scale, however we have to start with each individual. In a book written by David Quammen called The Face of a Spider, Quammen suggests that simply looking a creature, in his case spiders, in the eyes is his answer to the ethical problem of whether to squish or save them. Quammen says, “I only know that, when I make eye contact with one (a spider), I feel a deep shutter of revulsion, and of fear, and of fascination… I remember that we aren’t alone. I remember that we are the norm of goodness and comeliness only to ourselves.I wonder about how ugly I look to the spider(pg.37-38).” I believe we should take Quammen’s advice and apply it to something bigger than just spiders and snakes. If we look deeply at the Earth, in a way metaphorically make eye contact, and decide to give mercy and save it, that could be our answer. We as humans are the only ones that have this capacity to save the planet.

Finally people need to start looking at the bigger picture, our planet is slowly dying of a sickness that we are responsible for. To the planet we are but billions of parasites slowly making health diminish. We must stop waiting for a solution and instead look for and apply it. We have to start to realize what we have done as humans to the planet we call home and fix it. We must work together and find what is best for nature and our planet, not ourselves.