As far as I can remember, I have always known I am part of a destructive species and I have always lived my life to minimize my impact, the greatest decision of which was to not have children. As far as I am concerned, I’m free and clear with this decision as I could not possibly consume as many resources as if I had kids, and they had kids, etc. (Maybe this was from coming up in the 70’s, the greenest time in America, or maybe it was being born a “wise child”. I don’t know. I only know that I have “always been like this.” Maybe you can relate).
I live my life to minimize my carbon output and this includes suffering financially. I few years ago, I quit my position teaching ecology at multiple community colleges because I had to drive at least 100 miles a day to tell people not to drive…It was absurd. I was offered a great opportunity recently to make some good money doing something I am good at but it required me to drive 150 miles a day (round trip) for a month. They refused to compromise allowing me to work from a home a few days a week, use Skype, Webinar, etc. I did the math on just how much carbon I would pump into the air (not to mention the hell of commuting into a large city, mass transit not being an option at their location). I turned it down and as a result, lost out on a substantial sum. Nobody earns money for me but me.
We need a name for those of us that live our lives as if climate change matters. We will sacrifice socializing (driving to do it), shopping, money–maybe we stay home a lot. Shop online (does this minimize our footprint?) We may get laughed at. Try telling someone “I’m sorry but I can’t do it because I am worried about climate change and I want to minimize my carbon footprint.”
In order to institutionalize climate change, those of us like me, need to start SAYING this on a day to day basis. There are other ways to institutionalize climate change but the INSTITUTIONS that should be doing it right now ARE NOT–SO IT FALLS TO US. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON A DAILY BASIS and unfortunately, this is how I think we will slow climate change down. I think the larger institutions are and will fail to right our eco-ship in time.
I needed a way to describe myself to people to negate constantly having to EXPLAIN…so I call myself a CLI-FER (long “i” sound)= I live my life according to climate change.
Be prepared to get laughed at.
“I’m sorry. I am very interested in helping you with your project but I am not driving 150 miles every day for a month to do it. I need to work from home, or drive less. I’M A CLI-FER.”
“You’re a WHAT?”
“A Cli-fer. I try to live my life in such a way as to minimize my carbon footprint.”
Silence. Scoff. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No. You shouldn’t be surprised. I am a professional ecologist and even if I was not, I would be a Cli-fer. I’m sorry. If you change your mind or we can work something out so I don’t have to pump so much CO2 into the air, please call me.”
This is what we have to do. Call it a form of climate change civil disobedience.
I am convinced nobody else is going to do it if we don’t.
Virginia Arthur, Cli-fer