If not, gather your friends and watch it here.
This film has stayed with me since I saw it months ago, and I have not been able to stop thinking about the conclusions. That my generation will likely be the first to see the devastating impacts of climate change not just on our environment, but on our lives and our homes, is sobering.
The reality that our grandchildren may be born into a world where a glass of clean tap water is extraordinary, where extreme weather is normal, and where coastal cities are navigated by boat (if they even exist at all) is scary. Perhaps even scarier than the future described in the film was the absence of a grand call to action. It listed a few things that people and governments could do (eat less meat; levy a carbon tax). But the message was clear: we’ve passed the stage of being able to make small changes. We’re in a time where only radical measures will help slow the change, and even then may not reverse it for many generations to come.
My thoughts quickly turned to how life would change when the future painted by the film becomes reality. There are so many things I take for granted, in large part because of my privileged circumstance of living in the USA, which has a low-to-me-right-now cost for activities resulting in high accumulated pollution:
Getting from point A to point B in gas-powered vehicles
Like many people in the US, I drive my car pretty much every day. If I’m not driving, I’m likely riding in someone else’s car, on a bus, or in a plane. Not only do I use a gas powered vehicle almost every day, but I’ve become habituated to the idea of weekend getaways. Mostly these allow me to see family and dear friends. 5-6 hours of driving or a 3 hour plane ride for 48 hours of hanging out. The together time is priceless, but I never consider the environmental cost.
While some in my generation have not been able to move out of the family home for financial reasons, I fared better and have been able to live with just my husband and none of our immediate relatives. But I love my family and I love seeing my family, so we travel often to visit for weekends and holidays, hence the point above.
Buying things that have short term value but are provided in long-lasting vessels
Do you have a drawer or cabinet that’s overflowing with plastic baggies from the grocery store? Is your trash can full of plastic water bottles? What about the stack of Amazon Prime boxes you haven’t had a chance to break down yet? How much do you accumulate just by buying stuff? If you left it pile up in your living room, it’s probably enough to become a nuisance after a week or so.
Sucking energy out of the wall
American households use a ton of energy. Our appliances are larger, we’re careless with our devices chargers, we use power strips to expand the number of outlets not to cut the power to unused appliances, we keep our hot water hot all day and all night. And most of us don’t use renewable energy to power these habits.
Because all of the above activities are inexpensive to me now, I’m able to focus my time and resources on education, entrepreneurial ventures, and long term investments. Every day is not a struggle for survival. My paper cup is overflowing with clean tap water.
If climate change produces a world where scarcity and extremity are the norm, these luxuries will evaporate and be replaced by daily struggle. Even if climate change does not materialize in the way the film described, the picture above still perpetuates inequalities between my life and the lives of others who are not as privileged. So, what will I do? What will I do to be part of the radicalism needed to save our planet, our lives, and our homes? What will I do to promote equality?
These goals are not as radical as they could be, but it’s a starting place:
- Have at least 1 day/week without gas powered transportation.
- Go for one week without using disposable cups or baggies. [Note: I started trying to do this in November 2016 and it is really hard. That’s why the goal is only a week.]
- Limit or eliminate weekend getaways. The idea here is to spend more time on each visit rather than have lots of visits lasting smaller amounts of time.
What about you? Have you seen ‘Before the Flood’? What are you doing big or small to curb climate change and its effects?