Americans don’t care about Polar Bears. And, Americans don’t really care about their children’s future in the larger, long-term sense. Americans do, however, care about food prices, their own “local impacts.” This is a harsh statement, I admit, but I say this because maybe if we accept the reality of what typical Americans really care about, it will help all of us to react more strategically to this unfolding crisis. Even in a post-Citizens United world, the American people is where political power lies. You may be confused by this assessment of what Americans care about because if you are reading this, you are probably the exception to this rule. I have no study to demonstrate what exactly Americans care about but based on experience, this assessment is legit.
Read: Most Americans accept that climate change is real, they just don’t care that much about it.
Food prices represent our immediate needs. Food prices are going up on some items we all love, like fruits and vegetables that are grown in California and due to the drought which is exasperated by climate change, are harder to come by. Prices on all types of foods will go up as water becomes more scarce and our climate is disrupted.
I am not putting down caring about immediate needs. My wife and I are at the tail end of raising two kids (adults), 19 and 17 years old and it was often all about immediate needs, a series of getting us from-here-to-there moments that got us to where we are today. We would have liked to have thought more long-term but too often meeting immediate needs was the best we could do and we resented being made to feel guilty for doing what we had to do.
It does get easier, in some ways, and in others ways it gets harder but we can think a little more broadly and longer-term now. This is why it is critical that empty-nesters and seniors are active in the climate fight. Many of those 50 years and over struggle to find meaning as they transition into these categories but this crisis is urgent and your experience and acquired skills are absolutely critical.
How do we motivate those in a constant time crunch to take a minute to let legislators, the only ones who can make sweeping changes, know that the climate crisis is at least on their minds and will be on their minds in the voting booth. One way is to talk about climate change in terms of food prices. We’ve heard for a while that we need to talk about local impacts to break through the din of modern life. Is there anything more local than our access to food?