I recently had my 25th birthday. While that would normally be an important day, recent events have made it more important than usual.
Let me tell you a story.
It was the middle of August. I’m scrolling through reddit like I normally would, when I find this Reuters article. The gist: Greenland is melting fast, faster than yearly snow fall can rebuild the ice. It’s melting fast enough that even if we radically lowered carbon emissions, it’s going to completely melt over the coming decades. That means an average 6 meters of sea level rise.
That’s about 20 feet. That’s… not good, to put it mildly. The article doesn’t say it, but if Greenland is on track to melt, Antarctica probably is too. And that means far more than 6 meters of sea level rise.
This is a depressing article… for most people. But when I read, I felt something different:
A crushing sense of purpose.
You see, I’ve been concerned about climate change for years. At one point, I was actively researching a solution for climate change… and then stopped. A distraction here. A pandemic there. You know how it goes. For the past few months, when I haven’t been rethinking my life, I’ve been playing games, reading books, watching Netflix, and definitely not thinking about climate change.
And then I read about Greenland, and realized… I can’t do that. The best evidence I’ve seen says climate change is real. I’m open-minded, but I have every reason to believe it’s going to get worse.
The storms will grow larger. The droughts will go longer. The heat waves will get hotter. The forests will burn faster. The seas will rise, and the deserts will move to meet them. If the worst predictions come to pass, the Earth will be transformed, millions will die, millions more will become climate refugees, and billions more will suffer the consequences if climate change isn’t stopped.
I reject that future, and substitute my own.
I’ve made a decision: I have to find a solution if one exists. I can’t sit by and do nothing while the world burns and the seas rise. Climate change needs to be stopped, and I need to do whatever it takes to solve it. Not because it’s my destiny; I don’t believe in destiny. And it’s not about me being a perfect fit for the job either; to paraphrase a famous videogame quote, even the wrong man in the right place “…can make all the difference in the world.”
I intend to be the right man.
This is my promise to the people of the Earth, to all of my descendants, and especially to myself: I will do whatever it takes to stop climate change. I will work with anyone if it means stopping climate change. I will pay any price, bear any burden, and march through the fires of Hell if that is what it takes to stop climate change.
“He who has a why can bear almost any how.”
So what is this going to take? What does this mean? It means I can’t play around anymore. I can’t play video games; climate change is not a game, and there is no reward for failure. I can’t watch pointless videos or read pointless posts on reddit; every hour browsing the internet is an hour wasted. I can’t waste time on pointless drama – personal or political – when there are millions of lives at stake.
The habits of adolescence are not sufficient for the task at hand.
I need to read every available book on climate change, and any book that will make me better able to solve climate change. I might dislike the author or disagree with their political views, but those are unimportant when millions of lives are at stake. The absolute best books I read will get added to my book recommendations.
I need to learn everything I can about climate change, and every possible solution for solving it. Even if the solution is unpopular or has taboo tradeoffs, it needs to be considered; there’s too much at stake to not be open-minded. Whatever I learn, I’ll write about here… when I’m not actively trying to solve climate change.
I need to turn myself into a person capable of solving climate change. I need to work long hours (50 hour weeks, 70 hour weeks, 100 hour weeks, more if necessary), and make those hours count. I need to be able to work longer hours than I’ve ever worked, focus more than I’ve ever focused, read faster than I’ve ever read, and be more organized than I’ve ever been. I need to be smart, capable, and free in all the ways that others are not if I want to have any chance of solving this.
I need to not use social media very much if at all, except in ways that directly and indirectly lead to climate change being solved.
I need to be as healthy as possible, so I can devote as much energy as possible to this. Being healthy is not the same as being competent, but anyone who’s ever been sick will tell you that it’s hard to work long hours or solve hard problems if your body is getting in the way. I need to sleep well, eat well, exercise, and get all the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy living. And I need to experiment with different health habits; what works for you might not work for me, and vice versa.
I need to be a focused writer. Anything I write about going forward either needs to be directly related to climate change, or needs to be indirectly helpful for solving climate change.
I need to not worry as much about current events, whether it’s a pandemic, election, or anything else. Those things will either resolve themselves, or become so bad that I’m forced to worry about them. It’s not because those things are unimportant, it’s that I don’t have time to focus on them with millions of lives at stake.
And it is millions. In the days ahead I’m going to be writing about just how bad climate change is going to get. You can’t predict the future with certainty, but you can look at probabilities… and the probabilities aren’t looking good unless a solution is found.
But that’s a topic for another day. I wrote all this just as much for myself as for anyone else, and I’ve already written a thousand words.
TLDR: My name is Proteus Morrill, and I’m going to solve climate change no matter what it takes.