Like many of you, I watch the news in shock. Whole islands in the Caribbean rendered uninhabitable by unprecedented hurricanes. Major cities under water. Forest fires threaten urban areas. Tropical storms hit temperate zones. Extreme monsoons and cyclones.
It feels like the dystopian future that seemed farfetched in so many bad movies, is now real. Having seen the water rushing through the subway tunnels after Hurricane Sandy hit New York made me rub my eyes in disbelief. It looked just like another movie in which they destroy Manhattan had actually come to life.
Now worries about hurricanes affecting family in Puerto Rico, colleagues in Texas, and friends in Florida and Cuba keep me up at night.
I suspect that I am not alone in this state of worry.
If you are not being directly affected by these climate-related disasters, you probably have close friends or relatives who are.
There is much fear about what is next. There is frustration about continued denial even though things are happening right in front of our eyes and you don't have to be a scientist to see. The reality is that climate effects that seemed so far in the future are here, now.
And there is resignation. The feeling that we are powerless to confront so much destruction!
Here are three things that are helping me (somewhat) through this trying time:
1. I ask myself: Can I do something about it? If the answer is “No”, then I must put the worry aside. But if there is something I can do, however small, I get up and do it right then. Here are some examples from the New York Times and Forbes. Above is a decision tree that helps me think through this.
2. Get others to do something. Whether it is calling Congress to support legislators who are trying to do something about it, publishing an article about reducing plastic containers or getting energy-saving light bulbs as presents for friends, I just have to do something.
3. Continue living life as if life will continue – but don’t live from crisis to crisis. It may have been easy to not worry about hurricanes until the next hurricane season. That is no longer possible.
Don’t wait for politicians to solve this. I want to, at least, do my small part. Don't you? The future is here now.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.