Climate change is real and we must stop its progression, but we do not face any imminent danger. Though the media wants to motivate people, they have done so in a way that has put people into a false panic.
Recently, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez commented at an NAACP forum that if we do not pass climate change legislation, Miami would be underwater within a few years. That type of “sky is falling” rhetoric may help in drawing attention to the issue, but this inaccurate information has spurred unnecessary fear and anxiety.
Global warming may seem like the biggest issue of our time, but humans have previously faced threats to our survival. My parents’ generation had to deal with the constant threat of nuclear war between U.S. and the Soviet Union. People believed missile strikes could hit them any minute, yet with more time to solve the climate crisis, people still remain scared out of their wits. The difference in reactions can be traced to the prevalence of social media nowadays.
Social media has helped to popularize teen activist Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture movement. Thunberg gave a recent speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit addressing climate change and her weekly climate strike. In the speech, Thunberg scared today’s youth by describing the “bleak future” ahead of us, but the emotion and urgency expressed in her speech must not be mistaken for scientific credibility.
From there, Thunberg’s fear mongering speech led to a flood of social media posts about her climate strike on Sept. 20. In theory, a climate strike seems like a great way to help rally support, but in practice it’s not pragmatic solution.
During the climate strike, many of the posters seemed to have political agendas. Because of this, climate change is no longer a bipartisan issue, and politicians will use it as another wedge issue to motivate future voters. Abortion and gun control protests have had similar effects on politicians. These controversies have barely progressed and seem to have little chance of compromise.
Moreover, millions of teens worldwide participated in the climate strike a few weeks ago, and the momentum has immensely declined since then. Some teens simply joined the protest because it was the trendy thing to do at the time, not for their genuine concern for the environment. Even those who genuinely support Thunberg cannot attend because they cannot afford to miss school every Friday.
Thunberg has become the face for ending climate change. People young and old alike, look to her as a knowledgeable person on the topic of global warming. However, she even acknowledges her lack of credentials by asking her followers to “listen to the scientists” in her speech to Congress on Sept. 19. Because of her newfound influence many have decided to blindly follow her lead and panic. While we need to solve the issue of climate change, it should be a calm, rational approach not an emotional, fear-based one.