Israel is warming at twice the average global rate and it is not my fault

Activism flips the power pyramid upside-down.

RENEWABLE ENERGY: View of the Ashalim solar power station in the Negev, 2018 (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
RENEWABLE ENERGY: View of the Ashalim solar power station in the Negev, 2018
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
I consider myself an environmentally conscious person.
My designated chore since the age of six has been taking out the paper and plastic for recycling. I felt I was fulfilling my role, that I could be somewhat calmer about the rising sea levels, the droughts, floods, extreme winters and rapidly warming summers.
That is, until I discovered that there are no more plastic recycling plants in Israel – and that the bottles I so meticulously put in the recycling bin probably found their way either to landfills or to a polluting boat outside the country.
I have continued to recycle and be vegan because I can’t live with myself knowing I haven’t done all I possibly could. These actions should be enough, but they are not. For years, I was debilitated by my smallness and by the guilt I was feeling that my existence leaves a permanent stain on the earth’s surface – made fragile by billions of other ugly stains. A shift in my consciousness came with the realizations that I, as a 17-year-old, am not the problem. Our current systems are setting the stage for a spectacular failure at our expense.
The solution is to demand systematic change.
The good news is we are not the first to try changing the system. All movements start with the recognition of a problem and the imagination of a better future – a complex tightrope walk between hope and reality.
The next step, as described in a January 2020 New York Times article titled “How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change,” is shifting the focus of our energy from eliminating our carbon footprints to challenging the systems that make our personal actions problematic. While researching my carbon footprint for a school paper, I discovered that I am responsible for the emission of about a ton of fossil fuels a year from electricity usage, which equals the entire weight of the Liberty Bell or a fully-grown walrus. One way to reduce my carbon footprint would be to read by candlelight. This, however, does not address the larger problem which is that only 10% of Israel’s energy is renewable (our 2020 target under the Paris Agreement), and that is something we should be protesting.
If we are in this for the long haul, we should stop punishing ourselves and act effectively. As Emma Goldman famously says: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” I can tell you from my experience that going to a protest or a march is energizing.
The next step in understanding how to create change is by challenging the perception of power in society. Often we feel that we are living in a pyramid in which the people in power make decisions that trickle down to us citizens, many times with bad results. While an individual’s carbon footprint is important, it seems tiny when considering that according to a report published by the Carbon Disclosure Project, more than 70% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 have been made by only 100 companies that continue to be either supported or not regulated by most governments. Activism, however, flips the pyramid upside down. We are the base that feeds our leaders and without our support they are powerless. As a collective group lucky enough to live in a democracy, however imperfect it may be, we have the responsibility to make our opinions heard.
One basic form of doing so is through voting. Ecological organizations, private companies and citizens joined together to create Vote Green. The purpose of this organization is to put public pressure on politicians toward the elections and have them discuss and commit to immediate action on climate change. Furthermore, they ranked the parties running in the upcoming elections according to their platforms, designated MKs and action concerning ecological matters and the climate crisis.
Before you vote, consider these important factors and support green politics. Visit votegreen-il.com to read the full review.
Inaction at this point speaks just as loud as action. By being passive, we are taking an active part in the destruction of our ability to continue living on this planet.
It is time we put our energy towards setting our demands to decision-makers and creating change.
We are always stronger together than alone.
For additional information: greennewdeal.org.il/
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