Fighting the Climate Crisis with Laughlin Artz
This week, we invited Laughlin Artz to discuss how individuals can impact the climate crisis. Artz is the Executive Director of 2030 or Bust, championing its mission to empower humanity to end the climate crisis. Laughlin has distinguished himself as a global radical change agent, putting the power to resolve humanity’s most urgent issue in the hands of ordinary people.
How does language affect/contribute to the climate crisis?
Artz: So I’ll give you one example. Long before the Europeans came to what is now America, some cultures of Native Americans had a saying:
We don’t do anything without looking seven generations ahead.
When that’s the kind of language that you live in, it gives you a guide for how you act, how you relate. You have really long-term thinking as far as, “what’s this gonna impact seven generations from now.” It just gives you a whole different way of seeing life. When the Europeans came over they didn’t have that language; they had a language where you could actually buy and sell the earth. The earth was a natural resource; it was something that humans had dominion over. Everything changed when the language changed. The language really does alter the way things go.
What did YOU eat as a kid?
Well first of all I grew up in a dairy family – my family had a dairy. So in my family, there wasn’t anything that a dairy product couldn’t fix. It was just milk and milk and milk, and it was awesome. That was what I knew.
When it started to really shift was in my early 20s. I did some dancing and dance classes in ballet and that kind of stuff. I was in a class one day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the instructor happened to have this conversation with me. She said, “do you have any idea how much energy your body uses to digest meat?” I think it was chicken she was talking about, and I was like, “no I don’t have any idea.” She said, “just imagine that if your body didn’t have to spend all that energy trying to do something with that chicken, you could use that energy to dance”.
It was such a no-brainer. I also noticed that eliminating meat and dairy from my diet did affect my thinking. It got clearer, it’s a strange way to talk about it but it got ‘lighter’.
How can the average person make a difference in the climate crisis?
The prevailing theory is that it’s too big for individuals, and it’s just too complex. It’s all up to the governments and all that stuff. When we came up with the model – because we had to get an end game – we had to tell people this is where the goal is. This is how we’re going to win the game. As opposed to doing our best and hoping, 2030 was really the cutoff point, when people said, “if we can dramatically impact our emissions reductions by 2030, we’ve got a shot at ending it in time.” If we don’t, it just becomes dramatically more difficult every year.
What are some of the bright spots you see in your climate change work?
A lot of people are doing great things such as Greta Thunberg and Friday’s for Future. The kind of awareness that she brought to young people. I’m sure there are also things that I don’t even yet know about.
I heard yesterday that there’s a whole different kind of nuclear energy that’s now been created. So it just happened like in the past few days – a whole new kind of power, and how we can eliminate fossil fuels even quicker than what we thought. The number of electric cars now; many people are going electric. So there’s lots of bright spots, and we don’t want to diminish any of those bright spots.
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