Here’s how the ticking time bomb of the tick is happening in real time, followed by the low-hanging fruit of a few habit changes that can make a collective difference.
Millions of us are eating traditional hamburgers, which come from beef. Beef comes from cattle. The raising of cattle requires a significant amount of land, fertilizer, and water, burning up a lot of fossil fuels; and the cattle itself produce a high amount of methane. Fossil fuels and methane are two of the top contributors to the global warming we hear so much about but are usually too overwhelmed with life to do anything about. Global warming is white noise to us, and white noise can be dangerous.
Why? As warming proliferates, ticks hang around longer. This sucks (pun intended) because ticks sometimes bite people and pass along a menu of diseases that include Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Symptoms abound and people suffer; miss work or school; get into debt; contend with loved ones, friends, and bosses who don’t quite get it; and in general are not as able to contribute to the economy and society as a whole, their potential hindered as they try to get a handle on what’s happening to their bodies.
Each year, as the planet gets a little warmer and the ticks live a little longer, more of the illnesses affect more people. More lost productivity, more rising health care costs, more stress for families, fewer social issues such as crime and poverty addressed because talented people have been sidelined, fewer dollars earned for business, fewer jobs created.
Can one person make a difference in the wake of the tick-ing time bomb? Hell, yes.
Anyone who takes action to make things better is joined by millions of others who are taking action to make things better. We’ll never meet the vast majority of these other people, but that doesn’t mean that our individual actions don’t contribute to a collective goodness. Global data on climate change will reveal, across time, whether the problem is getting worse, staying about the same, or improving. We must continue to take action even if climate change continues to accelerate, because at some future moment there could be a tipping point when the collective goodness finally produces more optimistic data. We are engaged in a long game.
A Google search will give you hundreds of ideas for the part you can play in harnessing climate change. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, because no one can reasonably take all of these steps, given the cumulative habit changes and expenses that would be required. But here’s three steps I’m taking that you might find easy to implement as well.
First, I’m no longer eating beef. It’s easier than it sounds. I’ve found that once I stop eating something regularly, I miss it less and less as time passes and my taste buds adjust.
Second, I’m being as vigilant as possible with recycling. I’ve been pretty good at it for many years, but sometimes I get lazy and toss an empty yogurt container into the trash because I don’t feel like washing it out in the sink, when in reality it takes maybe 30 seconds to wash it out and walk a few feet to the door that leads to my garage and drop said container into the recycling bin. I’ve declared war on such laziness.
Third, I’m washing my clothes in cold water only. Studies have proven that approximately 75 percent of the total energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions produced by a single load of laundry come from warming the water itself. Cold water is just as effective as warm for washing clothes.
Maybe you’ve got your own list of three or five or 10. The key is to do something. Doing something is non-negotiable.
Unless, that is, you’re really fond of ticks and the big can of crazy they can bring to your immune system and your lifestyle.