My Personal Connection to Climate Change

Climate change is something that I have known about since late elementary or early middle school. My generation grew up as part of the climate change movement.  We have seen all the different ways the world has dealt with it, and the different stages of realization, including denial and fear.  Because of this, I feel like my generation is somewhat desensitized to the idea of Climate Change. I learned about climate change at a much younger age than my parent’s did, but for me personally, I don’t believe that this has greatly effected the way I see climate change.  If anything, it has made it easier for me to repress the fear and anxiety caused by the knowledge that climate change is a real threat.  When you hear about it enough, the issue seems so big that instead of being motivated to change it, it is easier to accept it as an unfortunate fate.   This isn’t something I’m proud of, it is just something I have noticed, and I am working on finding ways to be productive towards this issue instead of passive.

Despite the way I sometimes feel towards my reaction towards it, climate change plays a fairly big role in my family’s life.  My grandfather is a political scientist and has been focusing all of his research, energy, and money on global climate change over the past few years. “Global warming” and “climate change” are heard frequently at family gatherings, even casually over dinner.  However, I have only recently, for the past two or three years, begun to ask my grandfather about his work on my own time in hopes of learning more about what his goals are and what I can do to help.

My grandfather’s overall goal is to find a way to get people concerned about climate change in a healthy and productive way, enough for them to help to stop and ideally reverse the damage we have already done.  He often says that you can divide the world’s population into very specific groups: 1) those who don’t believe in climate change, 2) those who know that it exists, but feel indifferent towards it, 3) those who see it as a threat, but are not actively doing anything about it, and 4) those who are actively trying to do something about global climate change.  My grandfather believes that group 2 and 3 make up the largest parts of the population. As a political scientist, he believes that this has a lot to do with the flaws in our current democratic process and how many people feel they do not have a voice or are being fed misinformation from the big political parties.

My grandfather created the The Citizen’s Jury process in the 70s.  He is still actively working on the process, focusing on how to make it useful for getting people involved and interested in climate change. The Citizen’s Jury process is too lengthy and involved to talk about in this blog post, but you can read more about it here: http://jefferson-center.org/.  In a nutshell- it’s a process that is designed to give Americans from all walks of life an equal chance to become educated and share their opinions on the current big issues. Here are some links to climate specific projects that my grandfather is currently involved in:

http://jefferson-center.org/what-we-do/current-projects/rural-climate-dialogues/

http://jefferson-center.org/morris-area-climate-dialogue/

I didn’t write this post with intent to brag about my family’s environmental conscience.  In fact, my immediate family is pretty average when it comes to how we deal with climate change and the environment, and although we try to do what we can to help reduce our carbon footprint, we still fall into that big percentage of people who believe that climate change is a threat, but do not always feel like we know how to make a difference. However, my grandfather stands out in all of that as part of the percent who is actively working to help.  I personally admire his approach to issues like this and hope that I can work with that same sort of integrity and ambition toward something as big, scary, and vital to our existence as climate change.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 8.59.21 PM

My grandpa, Ned Crosby, talking about his work over coffee with a friend. 

– Jay

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2 thoughts on “My Personal Connection to Climate Change

  1. As you mentioned in the beginning, it’s unfortunate, but I feel similarly. The passive acceptance of climate change is something that I’ve felt up until this summer. I’ve always known that climate change was a huge problem and I’ve always felt bad about the affect humans have on the earth, but I’ve never actually done anything until recently. This summer I tried to cutback on my impact as far as garbage and recycling goes. It isn’t a whole lot, but comparatively I think I’ve started to head in the right direction.

  2. Very interesting! I am going to read up on his work…..I agree that many people know about it and don’t care or are indifferent. For many people, they feel as if there is nothing they can do to make a difference.

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