Climate sacrifice
By Peter Schulte profile image Peter Schulte
2 min read

Climate sacrifice

Have you been a climate zombie? What sacrifice might you make to help maintain a livable planet?

I notice three basic ways people often relate to the climate crisis.

Climate deniers don't believe it's real and don't do anything. If anything, they actively sow skepticism and maybe even revel in their carbon-intensive lifestyles.

Climate zealots believe in it and go to extensive if not extreme lengths to minimize their carbon footprint. They perhaps live off the grid, grow their own food, or commit to not buying any new goods or producing any waste. Their lifestyles are completely transformed by their climate commitments.

Climate zombies believe in it, but ultimately go about living their lives as if they don't. Climate is not a factor in their life decisions.

I have many climate zombies in my life. I rarely hear them even mention the climate crisis. Sometimes they give lip service to the importance of taking action. But in practice, it's yet another carbon-intensive flight to Palm Springs for 36 hours; more unnecessary gadgets and clothes (but yet not being able to afford a heat pump or solar panels); and then perhaps buying a brand new Tesla to feel as if they are doing something, not seeming to recognize it as a play for their own social status as much as anything else.

I find myself increasingly frustrated with climate zombies. I look out at the latest climate catastrophe and urgent warning from climate scientists and want to scream: "Wake the f*** up! Time is running out!" I even sometimes imagine myself telling them off in some dramatic way. It feels satisfying.

And then I realize I'd largely be screaming at myself as much as anyone else. So it feels more useful to channel that energy into writing, where I can better recognize myself as the core audience.

Here's my truth: I admire and respect climate zealots. I honor them for their determination and bold action. But I'm not convinced their path is likely to invite and inspire the masses into the widespread climate action we need. It demands a level of sacrifice that most are just yet not ready to make.

What we need more than anything is more climate moderates people who believe in climate change and make at least a few sacrifices in their lives to do something about it. This does not mean buying a Tesla. It does not mean telling people off or writing some blog post. It might mean:

  • Choosing to electrify their homes (instead of remodeling the kitchen)
  • Foregoing that weekend trip to Palm Springs and opting for a stay-cation
  • Cutting out or drastically reducing meat consumption
  • Donating significant (i.e., enough to sting a little) money to a climate fund

More than anything, it means that climate considerations are a real, often persuasive factor in their life decisions. They earnestly think about the climate implications of their decisions. And in some instances, they decide to forego some indulgence as an act of service to our planet and future generations.

Have you been a climate zombie? What sacrifice might you make to help maintain a livable planet?

By Peter Schulte profile image Peter Schulte
Updated on
Spark Blog