How Global Warming is Sort of Like a Haunted House. And How It’s Not.

When I was a kid, I was a wimp. I was scared of my own shadow back then. I remember staying up all night, unable to sleep after watching even the tamest of “scary” movies (think Hocus Pocus). One time my grandfather took me through a haunted house when I was 12, and I think I didn’t sleep for a week. In fact, for the next 48 hours, I jumped every time someone made a sudden movement or loud noise. I avoided haunted houses like the plague after that.

It wasn’t until last year that I finally went back to a haunted house. It was at the urging of a group of friends. I was pretty anxious going into it—would I out myself as the coward of the group? Would I have a full blown panic attack?

Well, I didn’t.

Turns out I’m a lot better at dealing with fear as an adult than I was when I was twelve. Who would’ve guessed, right? Once I realized that the actors aren’t allowed to touch you, and would generally leave you alone if you don’t show any fear, the haunted house experience actually became rather enjoyable. I’ve been to several haunted houses since then and plan on going to several more.

Segway-ing on to a different topic, I was also pretty scared of pollution as a little kid. I would watch these shows on PBS that showed all the different ways humans threaten the environment. They included images of sea creatures caught in plastic six-pack holders and factories spewing out endless smog into the atmosphere. And I would just think, “We’re doomed. All the animals are going to die and we won’t have any clean water to drink and then we’ll all die!”

There’s still plenty of things to be worried about when it comes to the environment. It was recently announced that “Human activity has caused at least half of climate change in the last half-century,” and that scientists are 95 percent certain of this, as recently reported by CNN and many other news outlets. It’s worth noting that 95% certainty means that scientists are about as confident on this as they are that cigarettes cause cancer. 

Another recent news event is that the buildup of pollution in China has become so bad, it’s shutdown a city of 11 million.  Doing a Google Image search for “China” and “Pollution” will give you countless startling images, and I’d recommend doing that. But just to paint a picture for you, there are some parts of the country where the smog is so thick, it’s difficult to see across the street.

Sometimes the news we get about the environment is a lot like going through a haunted house—it’s one shocking scene after another after another. However, a haunted house is an experience on rails; a linear story that has one inevitable conclusion—getting chased by the one actor with a chain saw without a chain (by the way, I don’t care how confident I am during the rest of the attraction—I will always run away from the chain saw guy).

But the story of what happens to the environment doesn’t need to be like that. We aren’t stuck on rails heading straight for environmental ruin (although that almost certainly will be our fate if we continue on this path). It’s not too late for us to change course and have a different ending to the story. Unlike my new-found solution to surviving haunted houses, the solution to this problem isn’t to ignore it and pretend it isn’t scary. At the same time, I don’t think the proper response is to curl up in a ball and have a panic attack either. There are many things the average person can do to save energy and do their part to help the environment (use energy-efficient light bulbs, recycle, drive less; you’ve heard these things before, right?). But there are also many things that businesses can do to decrease their environmental impact as well. Our CEO, Hanko Kiessner, said in an interview that one of his main goals with this business is to prove that it is possible to do the right thing and at the same time run a profitable business. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve shown that it is possible. As some of the biggest producers of CO2 emissions, businesses have a responsibility lead by example and show how to be sustainable.

To read that interview with Hanko, click here:

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