Saturday, April 24, 2021

My Writing in the NY Times on Earthday

My writing was included in an opinion piece in the NY Times on Earthday, entitled "When Climate Breakdown Hits Home: Readers share how environmental issues are changing their lives."

The term the editors used in the title, "climate breakdown," is a useful variation on climate change and climate crisis, given the damage extreme weather is doing to the systems that sustain our lifestyles. Here's my contribution to the piece:

For years, people in my community have ignored education campaigns and scolding letters to the editor and continued putting plastic bags in their curbside recyclables. Only when crews stopped taking recyclables contaminated with plastic bags did people stop. It took about a month to change everyone’s behavior.

Then Covid hit and people were forced again to change their ways, this time on a much larger scale. We proved ourselves adaptable, resourceful and even capable of finding silver linings, one of which was rediscovery of the great outdoors.

Local environmentalists still cling to the notion that education will cause people to change their ways voluntarily. Necessity in the form of policy change is the only form of education most people learn from, but we’ve been taught to resent those who dare impose necessity upon us. It’s sad that such an adaptable species is saving all of its adaptability for the endgame. — Steve HiltnerPrinceton, N.J.

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