Story at a glance
- ”Good Morning America” asked five experts and climate activists what are some of the worst things people can do for the environment.
- A top issue facing the environment is climate deniers in positions of power.
- April 22, 2021 is Earth Day.
With Earth Day right around the corner, the already prominent topic of climate change is heating up. To propel discussion and change, "Good Morning America" asked five experts and climate activists what are some of the worst things people can do for the environment.
The hope is the knowledge will fuel changes in action. Here are the five worst things to do for the environment, according to the experts.
One of the most detrimental issues is supporting and putting into power people and bills that don’t act in the climate’s best interest, according to Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA.
“There's still a lot of climate deniers in our government. That will remain true as long as the public doesn’t vote for climate as a priority,” Kalmus said. “If you think this is a hoax and you're spreading that disinformation, then you're probably also supporting policies and policymakers who are taking us in the opposite direction where we need to go.”
Coming in at No. 2 is people's own belief that they can’t make a difference, even if they want to.
"I feel like so many people are afraid of becoming activists because of the gatekeeping that happens sometimes in activism like, 'Oh, you're not this enough, you're not that enough, or you're not woke enough, or you don't know enough about these graphs or the system, or you're not vegan.'” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a young climate activist from the Philippines. “There's so many different types of gatekeeping in the movement, and we really don't need it. Everyone is needed, and everyone has their role to play.”
The third issue, according to Kalmus, is continuing to engage in high-pollution activities.
"If you say if you're a climate activist and you're saying it's OK to keep flying, then you're really upholding fossil fuel norms and the status quo. And I think we need to tear those norms down, and we need to revoke social liscence for burning fossil fuel,” he said.
The fourth major problem is holding the belief that climate change is something that will affect the future but that it isn’t happening right now. It is.
"In America, we are temporarily insulated from this, we're temporarily just not seeing it, but everyone else around the world, in the Global South, they're seeing it on a daily basis," said Jerome Foster II, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
And finally, the fifth worst thing to do for the environment is to avoid acknowledging that climate change has deep roots in systemic oppression.
"Environmental justice is knowing that countries like the Philippines, which only contribute less than 0.4% of emissions to the climate crisis, is the second-most vulnerable country in the world to the climate crisis,” explained Tan. “It's knowing that every day, we have that fear of a new typhoon coming. And wondering if that will be our last, if that will be the day that the floods will just consume our homes. We must remember those who are contributing the most to the climate crisis are countries in the Global North and, more specifically, the fossil fuel industries."
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