Op Ed: Will Fear Motivate You to Start Caring about Global Sustainability?

Why we should care...


By Jane Kim, Communications Major, Sustainability Communications Intern

The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change published a 2216 page report about the condition of Earth in a part of its fifth assessment. There are many facts laid out via graphs and charts. Maggie Fox, the CEO and President of the Climate Reality Projects says that there are two crucial data that we should take away from IPCC’s report. First, is that 95% of human activity such as the use of fossil fuel is effecting climate change. This means that we are as certain of this cause and effect as we are certain about Ithaca’s daily fickle weather. Secondly, our carbon budget is one trillion tons. Unfortunately, we’ve spent more than half of our budget and if the pollution rates continue to grow, by year 2050, we will exhaust our carbon budget.

Only when individuals start to care and act upon our focus toward sustainability, will the higher up's make influential sustainable decisions to protect the biosphere. The change in mindset and passion to make a change for a better condition for our earth must come from individuals.

There is a particular motivating force in our lives. That is of fear in various aspects of our lives: the fear of not being able to provide for a family, the fear of rejection, the fear of humiliation, and the fear of failure. Fear motivates us to get an education, compete for jobs, work hard to succeed, and apply ourselves to become better individuals. What do you love? What can’t you live without? I love honey-raw, organic honey to be specific. Honey is part of my daily skin washing routine; it has antibacterial and moisturizing properties. That means by simply washing my face twice a day, my skin is protected from bacteria and drying out. I also use Manuka honey for its extraordinary ability to kill germs and speed up the healing process.

Soon after discovering the amazing qualities of honey, I learned that that bees are mysteriously disappearing and dying. After visiting a local beekeeper from the Cornell Beekeeping Club who showed a group of us how honey is processed and also spoke of his concern about the disappearance of bees, I became worried about what I would do if there are no more bees. Keep in mind that bees fertilize most of our fruits and vegetables. So that means without bees, people would be in deep danger for finding sources of food.

The disappearance of bees is not the only result of the issue of climate change. Climate change will influence a lot of shortage in many things. That means something you love will eventually become a rarity that soon disappears completely. Does that instill fear in you? Because I feel afraid.

There has been research done on how fear influences how people make changes in their health. An article published in the Journal of Communication, written by Nithya Muthusamy, Timothy R. Levine, and Rene Weber  discusses that the results showed that fear is an effective motivator only if an individual's belief in one's power to make a change is greater than the perceived fear. This finding is great news because there is proof that we have enough time and resources to protect our planet- click around on our website!

We can do this. Spread the word and get to action.

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.