“Whatever,” and Other Valid Excuses For Ignoring Climate Change

Jack Taggart

The Charter Opinions


A long time ago, when top hats were in style, and movies were called motion pictures, two men sat in a warehouse, about to build what would be the first car (or automobile, whatever). 

“Now let me get this straight,” one said to the other. “This thing will pump out gases that make the entire planet warmer?” 

“Yep,” said the other.

“Is that gonna be a problem?”

They looked at each other as a brief moment elapsed, before simultaneously shaking their heads, and saying “Nah.” 

And so our story begins.

Although these men are fictitious, their spirits live on. Their attitude of disregard (or idiocy, or both) hasn’t died. In terms of climate change, the biggest roadblock to a greener future, or a more energy reliable economy might not be Exxon Mobil, SUVs, or even plastic straws, but people with the same attitudes of disregard and whateverness as the two men previously mentioned. 

For example, let’s take a look at an average imaginary American man named Jeff. Jeff enjoys being seen as a tough, powerful guy, so to enhance his image, he buys Ford F-350, even though he lives in the suburbs, having no more use for a pickup than a man who lives in an apartment has for a John Deere lawn mower. Jeff likes the truck because it’s exceptionally large, extremely loud, and powerful, just like Jeff’s friends see him (minus the powerful part). Jeff only uses his truck for carrying groceries and hitting the gas when he drives past a little kid riding home from the park on a bike, making a loud, satisfying RUUUM!!! He also uses it to grab a hamburger now and then. Jeff eats a Big Mac every day, not really liking the chicken alternative. Remember that part about being exceptionally large? It doesn’t end there. Jeff sometimes tosses beer cans and soda bottles out of his truck window while he drives, thinking “some happy kid will find it and cash it in for 10 cents,” or “everyone does it.” He even, !*gasp*!, uses plastic straws. 

There’s nothing morally wrong with Jeff himself, but his attitude is what poses some of the biggest problems in the fight against climate change. He is fully aware of climate change, the problem of land pollution, and also is aware of the extreme pollution that comes as a result of beef farming (he studied cattle farming after buying his truck so he could spout off farming facts to the store cashier before swaggering out to his truck, just like a genuine redneck. Yeehaw!). 

But with all his knowledge of the causes and effects of climate change, he does nothing. Now, as any self-respecting person would do, Jeff tries to justify his dismissive attitude. He has two ways of doing this. One is to simply pretend it is not that serious. “Heck,” he says in a fake southern drawl as he reaches for the windshield wiper knob in his truck. “I’m sick and tired of this rain. I could use a little warmth,” he says as he blissfully imagines palm trees sprouting up in his front lawn like daisies on some mountain in Sweden, while he drinks pina coladas and  unsuccessfully tries to tan. “Sure,” he thinks “it might melt some snow. But I don’t really like skiing anyway.”

Sometimes, Jeff pretends that climate change doesn’t exist, and doesn’t let himself think too hard about droughts and floods in foreign nations, and just thinks of the increase rate of wildfires, hurricanes, and the sudden simultaneous extinction of multiple animal species as mere coincidence. Just like how the flame of a candle smells like burning nose hair: a mere coincidence.