By Nick Galaida, TWC Media Intern from Cuyahoga Community College
Neurologically speaking, human beings become who they are based on where they have been. The human brain is born unfinished, allowing itself to be sculpted by the intricate details of individual life experience. This feature of the brain enables human beings to adapt and survive in just about any climate and environment. It also means that humans beings, while being genetically similar as one species, can hold immensely different views and values depending on the part of the world they live in.
There might no greater example of this than the issue of climate change.
As a native Clevelander, who has spent his entire life dealing with the frigid winters on Lake Erie, climate change might not seem to be the worst thing in the world. Looking at it from as simple a view as possible, if climate change meant that I had to deal with a little less snow each year, I might not be that upset.
At least, that’s what I thought before I interned for The Washington Center at its Inauguration ‘17 seminar.
Many universities here are represented by more than one student. However, I am the only student from my school. Fortunately, the large group from Miami-Dade College in Florida has adopted me, so to speak, and I’ve joined them on many of their group experiences around Washington, D.C.
One of our visits was to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise and individual liberty. The speaker, William Yeatman, advocated against using government resources to stop global warming. Yeatman claimed that there are more important societal issues than climate change, and he believes that the money spent on climate change doesn’t make a significant difference.
I went to the CEI with an open mind and found myself somewhat in agreement with much of what Yeatman stated. He suggested that if we do nothing to counter the current pace at which the earth is warming, the temperature will go up only about two degrees over the next 100 years. This Clevelander didn’t see that as all that bad.
However, if you are from Miami, that makes a tremendous difference.
Miami-Dade faculty leader Richard Tapia explained to me that a two-degree average temperature rise means up to a 30-degree increase at the poles. According to Bob Deans of the National Resources Defense Council, sea levels could rise anywhere from three to nine feet as a result, effectively removing New Orleans from the map, causing major flooding along the east coast of the United States and “turning Miami into Venice.”
Roads in and around Miami already have been raised because of rising sea levels. In addition, some housing has had to be relocated due to the sea eroding parts of the coast, forcing individuals further inland.
Deans addressed TWC students on Tuesday morning, saying that the 19 hottest years on record have all come in the last 20 years. He believes there is a direct correlation between the burning of fossil fuels and the rising temperature across the planet.
He challenged people to consider that the burning of fossil fuels also has negative repercussions on the quality of our air, causing respiratory issues and an increase in heart attacks due to the lead and carbon dioxide from burning these products.
Deans also pointed to job production, showcasing that renewable energy employs 2.4 million people in the United States, while oil, gas and coal production accounts for about 223,000 jobs.
Deans believes that not only will renewable energy, such as wind and solar, cleanse the air, but it will also serve as a means of increasing jobs if America were to put more resources into it.
Deans concluded by stating that “there are smarter, cleaner ways to power our future.”
Before this TWC seminar, I was relatively uneducated on the immense impact climate change has made on our world. My friends from Miami-Dade have made me realize just how essential it is to understand how different our values and life experiences can be based on where we live.
One week ago, I didn’t have a passionate view on climate change After spending time with the Miami-Dade students and faculty, I will go home this weekend and spread the word about just how alarming climate change is.
The great part about the human brain is that it is plastic, meaning it is capable of change. Educate yourself on issues that may not be prevalent in your area of the world. All of us need to use our remarkably plastic and adaptable brains so that we can survive and prosper to the greatest extent of our potential, despite the fact that our immediate values and desires might differ.