Malma Malma Malma

Honestly, this matter has me feeling pretty conflicted. Originally, as I’m sure all people who were raised on Americans values are, I was a bit dismissive of Malm and his reasoning that the blame for climate change needs to be slightly shifted. Not necessarily because he blames capitalism for the desecration of the earth and its wildlife– I think it’s more than reasonable to sift some blame to the consumer market it has created. But it’s because he argues that we need to change the narrative of all of us being responsible for how we’ve treated the earth. The reason for this is because American culture is largely an individualist one, it’s one that places responsibility on citizens at an individual level rather than on a societal one. Coming from a conservative father (and albeit a liberal mother) as well as living in a community such as Montana that idolizes American culture, individualism is something that’s fully ingrained in my values, and any criticism of it often makes me very defensive. But I do think that Malm is right if anything because his last point “If everyone is to blame, then no one is.” (p.6 Malm) is really hard to argue against. So, my opinion is, if the committee decides to deem this the anthropocene poch, they need to change the narrative they have behind it. Namely, that all humans are all at fault, and no one else.

I think ultimately the way to approach climate issues is the way I approach all issues when dealing with opposing voices. Don’t approach an issue as a conservative or a liberal, or as a libertarian or a authoritarian, approach it as a rational person and give your proponent the benefit of the doubt that they are too. I think ultimately the tribalism people have with this issue is because people believe that it has to be attached to an ideology. It’s why I think Dr. Whitlock had so much success with the issue, she approached the topic as someone trying to explain their point of view, and how it could possibly help others.

5 thoughts on “Malma Malma Malma”

  1. You picked a great quote to use because it really does leave a lasting impact on people, as it should. It makes you think but also has the potential to make people upset because they don’t like being placed into groups they don’t feel they identify with. So when you mention how everyone is responsible for climate change, some people get defensive.
    You also make a great point about how the U.S. is very individualistic which is very true. Have you ever seen a house fire or some other tragedy up close? Most people are on their phones taking video or on social media updating their “interesting” lives while someone else’s is falling apart for their entertainment. People would much rather get a video of their neighbor’s house burning down rather than do something to possibly help knock the fire down or make sure the house is clear. It is incredibly sad but unfortunately the reality we face today in our society.

  2. Noah- I am confused about your interpretation of Malm. When he says “if everyone is to blame, then no one is,” he is essentially saying that by placing blame on humanity as a whole just for existing and evolving in the ways that it has, we are not able to place on blame on certain forces that have influence our culture in those ways that are damaging, namely capitalism. So, if you are in agreement with Malm, you would be acknowledging that capitalism is at least somewhat responsible for climate change, in contrast to placing the blame solely on humanity. Malm notes that society didn’t come together and explicitly agree to found itself upon the burning of fossil fuels; certain people realized early on that they could exploit the benefits of burning fossil fuels, and so influenced the trajectory of our culture. You are right in thinking that our consumerist culture and emphasis on individualism has played a role in exacerbating climate change, but we have all been born into and inherited this environment and culture without much say in the matter. I think this specific array of articles presents us with the reality that while none of us chose this scenario, we do still have agency in affecting it. What we do with that agency is yet to be determined.

  3. I really enjoy both your summarization and interpretation of the dichotomy between the approach of legitimizing the need to address climate change and the current American culture. It is very intriguing to think of the potential change in opinions toward and refusal of global warming if it were presented in a manner that wasn’t as easy to blow off as it currently is with blaming the entire human population. Undoubtedly, we are all guilty of the mindset of, “if everyone is to blame, what will one person making a change truly effect?” I truly believe that this is often what makes so many people uninterested in or committed to addressing this issue, despite the science behind it, simply because it seems so daunting and simply not applicable to individual people.

  4. I enjoyed your blog post and perspective. We are a nation of individuals and generally take a great amount of pride in that. We are also a country founded and built upon capitalism which we also generally take a great amount of pride in, so where do we point the finger? It’s true that capitalist seized upon technologies that started the negative impact we are experiencing today, but as you point out consumers were the fuel that fed the fire. I agree, it’s way too easy to just point the finger at capitalism. Companies fail every day because individuals do not support them. Those companies and industries who produce CO2 certainly deserve blame, but so do those of us who have participated in allowing that degradation to happen unchecked.

  5. I definitely agree with your second paragraph, it often seems that the easiest way to slow down a conversation or any sort of progress is to turn it into a partisan issue. When this happens people instead fall into their cliques and it becomes much harder for people to agree with one another. I think it will become very important in the future to actually listen to what is being said, and set aside tribalism so that the world can move forward. If we can stop crucial issues such as climate change from being muddled by politics and these constructed tribes, we may yet be able to prevent a large amount of damage that will be done otherwise.

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