Maya Angelou once said: “I did then what I knew how to do, now that I know better, I do better.”
A few things we did before we “knew better” include asbestos in building materials; lead in paint and gasoline; sprayed DDT; and refrigerated with ozone depleting freon. As we continue to “know better” I believe we are “doing better.” Our exposure to asbestos, lead and many other toxic substances has been greatly reduced, saving lives.
What about the existential threats of global climate change?
The heat trapping effect of carbon dioxide was observed in the 1800s but not well understood until the 1970s. By then, burning fossil fuels was driving the industrial revolution. For 40 cents a gallon, I drove my $300, 1963 Chevy all over the country without a thought of my CO2 emissions. We didn’t know better. Now we do. We have all benefited from burning fossil fuels. But we must “do better.”
There are promising signs. Electric vehicle use is becoming more common. Solar and wind are increasing in the power sector. Agriculture continues developing methods to reduce and sequester CO2. We have the technology to do better. Yet, every day the climate challenge grows. There will be climate legislation in this year’s budget reconciliation bill, and we have an obligation to let our representatives know we want action. If they don't hear from us, they think we don't care. Let’s tell our representatives to "know better” and “do better" on addressing climate change.