Climate crisis creates opportunity

Will Bannister, Guest Writer

The climate crisis is the greatest challenge that faces the generation currently attending Manhattan High School. 

This rings true despite a student’s economic or social class, gender, ethnicity or political views. Although we face a plethora of difficulties as individuals, ranging from simple predicaments, such as what we will have for lunch, to where to sleep tomorrow night, climate change acts as a force multiplier for all these difficulties; no aspect of our personal or communal life escapes the consequences of climate change. 

However, this challenge also presents an opportunity for greatness and renewal within us, both personally and communicatively. 

Not every generation, or even every other generation, witnesses the possibility to change the planet. America hasn’t faced such a massive potential change in over a century. Climate change will not be resolved by a “Green New Deal,” or by using metal straws or even regulating our largest corporations, although these are necessary actions. Rather it must be addressed by a fundamental recharacterization of our society. Life as we know it is incompatible with a sustainable Earth. 

The extensive transformation demanded must incorporate all aspects of our economic and social behaviors. In essence, we must reconsider the very nature of our current social compact. Our generation should take this opportunity to embrace a communitarian mindset. This presents the opportunity to reinvigorate traditional family and community values, with our modern interpretation of individualism and freedom of expression. 

Over the past half-century, the rates of community participation in various civic groups and recreational groups have plummeted, along with social mobility and life expectancy. We have the opportunity to reconstitute a healthy public sphere in America when battling climate change. 

We should join more associations as we fight against climate change. Create a lunch group to have a weekly potluck that uses sustainable packaging and reduces waste, volunteer at the community gardens, join a political action group for a cause you care about. Even trying out for a sport will help address climate change, because when we participate in collective community associations we acknowledge how beautifully intertwined our lives are and we influence each other to make healthier actions. Our new associations offer the opportunity to bridge gaps between underprivileged groups and the majority; they should be more inclusive of all races, sexualities, and identities. 

This is where our real opportunity lies; as we start to rebuild our associational lives, every single issue we care about becomes easier to address. The practice of becoming involved with each other and more intertwined is the first step for addressing the issues of economic and racial justice, drug pricing, gun violence. If we want to see policy change, the organizing that is needed for the passage of legislation will come more naturally to us. The fact that the climate crisis requires us to reimagine the way we live our lives presents us with the opportunity for us to reorganize our society for the better.