This year and since 1870, Americans are still planning to celebrate our independence from the British government.
But, in a nuanced 2022, regardless of whether one agrees we still have something to celebrate annually more than 150 years later, tough questions need to be asked and answered regarding whether this holiday actually hinders meeting our climate goals. Or, if we can and should be celebrating this holiday in a more controlled, thoughtful fashion.
Going into this thought experiment, remember that capitalism appears to always run unchecked, destroying the planet due to the greed of a few. Also remember that America is the second-largest polluter, so our responsibilities for the rest of the planet's well-being remain clear as day.
The truth is that this seemingly-harmless holiday creates an unfortunate hindrance to meeting our climate goals to curb climate change. Preserving biodiversity, nature as we know it, human health, and our children's futures may literally be on the table every July 4th.
But why is that? Yes--yet again, we as inherently greedy, lazy beings find ourselves staring directly at the consequences of unlimited, unchecked consumption. But changes have to come sooner or later.
The global climate goal is to not exceed 1.5°C (2.7°F) of temperature rise above the pre-industrial revolution temperatures. We have already reached 1.1°C (1.98°F) of temperature rise, leaving 0.4°C left before we reach a tipping point. We are already 73.3% through the entire allowable window that, if exceeded, would most certainly spell doom for most living creatures on this Earth.
To think about it more saliently, this "tipping point" isn't a magical day that brings negative consequences only at the point when a numerical temperature is realized. It is a gradual ramp up of natural disasters and climate emergencies. We are already seeing oceans heating to the point where we see unprecedentedly-massive fish die-offs. Unseasonal and strangely frequent tropical storms have also been observed on our path to the 1.5°C ceiling, not to mention wildfires beyond our imagination. We've seen catastrophic waves of avian death due to the increases in global heat. The scale of death and destruction we're seeing on the path to 1.5°C of total warming was hard to fathom and sometimes hard to anticipate.
Many factors are at play in why our climate target is proving hard to hit.
Humans tend to be reluctant to change. We are truly creatures of comfort.
We rarely treat bad news with the importance needed, mostly in part due to so many distractions.
In many cases, the uneducated-yet-hopeful (and the capitalists driving their brainwashing) are severely delaying our progress to preventing even more climate change through disinformation campaigns or distractions from the truth. Malicious social media narratives drive public opinion which drives public policy.
Capitalism/Corporate greed. Their pushback on air and water quality regulations that better our lives due to dollars they are not willing to spend.
So how much pollution generated from a holiday is considered "too much" given the context of our climate goals? Is it possible we aren't paying enough attention to our emissions in general, Fourth of July emissions quantifying be damned?
Yes, we need to pay more attention to our actions and make large-scale changes to our behaviors. We generally need to be more mindful of how our actions create negative or positive change.
So we must act today. Some societal course corrections are our responsibility to enact and embrace and could look like the following:
Don't set off fireworks. If this isn't palatable, set off a much smaller fraction than usual. Less demand creates less supply which means next year will be better/cleaner, and so on. Safely dispose of fireworks you may already have but aren't planning on using. If that still doesn't work, attend a public fireworks show instead.
Drive an EV or hybrid vehicle and avoid traveling by plane when possible.
Donate Now to get our Going Green Checklist now for free to expand your efforts in becoming greener, consuming less, and shrinking your carbon footprint.
and last but not least...
Taking incremental action creates undeniable progress. And with that, we can rest assured that the future health of the planet and its inhabitants are on the best path forward.
Stay safe out there!