Relax, it is just the end of the world


Julian Meehan/Wikimedia Commons

High school students at a ‘School Strike for Climate’ in Melbourne, Australia.

Emma Forster, News Editor

“Those who care for something else more than civilization are the only people by whom civilization is at all likely to be preserved,” wrote C.S. Lewis in his 1949 essay “On Living in An Atomic Age.In a world plagued by the impending doom of climate change, it is hard to let go of these worries and just be. But sometimes what is most important is to find what and who you love and to simply exist. 

At the dawn of the nuclear era, with the imminent Cold War and the creation of the atomic bomb, C.S. Lewis wrote “On Living in An Atomic Age.” He warned against altering one’s way of life to make room for fear of the nuclear era, saying “If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things.” While the general public no longer fears nuclear war, climate change has all but taken its place in harboring this fear. 

The Carbon Disclosure Project’s “Carbon Major Report of 2017” found that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global carbon emissions. The consumption of the goods these companies provide has some impact on emissions, but in order for real change to occur, both governments around the world and these enterprises must prioritize the limitation of climate change. Individual restrictions such as veganism and limiting plastic use, while admirable in their intentions, will never end climate change or even make a dent in the billions of tons of carbon annually released into the atmosphere.

Additionally, a study conducted by Kantar, a data analytics firm, finds that 75% of young people say the future regarding climate change is “frightening” and 45% say feelings about the climate have affected their daily lives. Many young adults use climate activism as an outlet for this fear. This can be greatly beneficial, and organizations such as Global Climate Strike and the support they receive from young adults is necessary to the mitigation of climate change’s already devastating effects. But enjoying life and the “human things,” as Lewis advises, is the key to happiness. For if we spend our whole lives worrying about the future of the planet, we will never fully appreciate its beauty. 

Lewis continues that “we must resolutely train ourselves to feel that the survival of Man on this Earth….is not worth having unless it can be had by honorable and merciful means.” If we prioritize the survival of man and only that, this survival will not be worthy of all the effort it requires. Climate scientists warn that the effects of climate change will soon become entirely irreversible, with the infamous Climate Clock displaying less than eight years, the amount of time remaining to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With global pandemics, natural disasters, rising sea levels and other devastating effects of climate change already plaguing the Earth, it can be hard to avoid the feeling that there is no going back now. And without the bold action of governments and industries around the world, there may be no going back. 

This honest, albeit terrifying, admission is precisely why it is so important to enjoy the world we live in today, because the clock is ticking. Use that time as motivation to strike, to donate and to work towards a brighter future. But perhaps more importantly, use that time for human things. Enjoy a coffee with a plastic straw, buy a new pair of pants, go outside and appreciate the Earth and its ever-lasting beauty. Use this time to relax, it is just the end of the world.