Why Bother

“Why Bother” is an article that was written by Michael Pollan.  Published by the New York Times Magazine on April 20, 2008, this article is about the fact that even with planet earth being at risk because of continuous carbon emission, people do not do anything to stop it. Pollan quotes several writers such as Wendell Berry as he tries to explain why people do not make efforts to prevent climate change. To Pollan, simple actions such as recycling and biking to work can make a difference in the prevention of climate change. 

Pollan addresses possible skepticism by his audience by acknowledging that his suggestion of people growing their own food can appear to be a too small gesture in preventing climate change (Greene and Lidinsky, p.716). He also states that there it as possible to turn his life upside-down and engage in activities such as biking to work, planting big gardens and turning down the thermostat but he also knows that it may be pointless as there may be his evil twin somewhere who is doing the exact opposite of what he is doing to prevent climate change (Greene and Lidinsky, p.717). Pollan also claims that as much as change in lifestyle may be necessary, it is not certain that it will be enough or that it will be politically sustainable before people prove to themselves that change is possible (Greene and Lidinsky, p.719)

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Pollan’s use of skepticism is effective in showing his audience his point of view as he demonstrates to them that he does understand how they may feel about his proposals (Pollan). He addresses some of the concerns that people have towards individual initiatives to prevent climate change or as he puts it, “the many stories we can tell ourselves to justify doing nothing”( Greene and Lidinsky, p. 717) He, however, encourages them to embrace his opinion through persuasive comments such as “growing even a little to your own food is “one of the most powerful things an individual can do to reduce your carbon footprint, to be sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind.” He, therefore, convinces his audience the benefits of their seemingly small gestures towards preventing climate change.  He also shows his audience that he understands the disproportion between the small things or changes that he is asking them to make and their effect on the big problem of climate change

Pollan mentions Wendell Berry in the last paragraph of page 717 of Greene and Lidinsky’s book. Berry’s argument is that the why bother question is one of moral imperative. To Berry, when people have a personal connection with what is wrong and recognize their dishonesty, they will be able to start changing their perception and way of life. Pollan uses this argument to prove his personal initiative and that people ought to take responsibility of their contribution to climate change point.

Pollan also mentions Berry’s opinion in the last paragraph of page 718 of the same book that the mind asking why bother is a cheap-energy mind as it cannot imagine a different kind of life. This point helps deliver Pollan’s message to his audience that he understands some people’s perception and the difficulty in changing their lifestyle in order to accommodate prevention of climate change.

According to Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan, people have do more than just taking shorter showers or recycling in order to prevent climate change. Just like Pollan, the two authors in their graphic novel “As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial” state that people convince themselves that baby steps are incapable of overhauling the system overnight. The three authors argue that this perception is the problem and that it will be too late to prevent climate change if people keep depending on each other or on collective action. Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan also demonstrate how people give excuses to not change their lifestyles and putting blame on any other person other than themselves on why it will not be possible to effect this lifestyle change (Jensen and McMillan). Pollan argues that people are too used to having a system where the government or agencies are tasked with doing particular task.

I think that people ought to take personal initiatives to prevent climate through simple actions like recycling as suggested by Pollan. We cannot keep relying on the government to do everything like deal with pollution as we are also directly responsible for creating that problem the first place.  Of course people may argue that corporations and other agencies too are to blame for the pollution we too are responsible in our own small ways of polluting the environment hence the call for small personal initiatives to alleviate the same.

According to Pollan and other writers, the change in people’s dietary habits is capable of improving their health and that of the planet too. According to McKay Jenkins, overthrowing industrialization of food can help in the elimination of many problems associated with the Western diet and the pandemic of modern chronic diseases. Jenkins argues against Genetically Modified Food as to him they cause more harm such as health issues as compared to the benefit of providing a food solution to the population (Jenkins). Both Pollan and Jenkins argue that some of people’s eating practices contribute enormously to their carbon footprint. According to Anna Lappe, a diet richer in plant-based foods like vegetables is healthier than an animal-based high calories diet and is connected with less impact on the environment. She quotes a few studies that reveal that the reduction in red meat and poultry consumption is a major means of cutting water use and greenhouse gas emission (Vandermeer). Pollan shares Lappe’s sentiments as he argues that growing own food will significantly help in reducing a person’s carbon footprint and carbon emission in the atmosphere.

In conclusion, the future of planet earth is in people’s hands. People have the duty to take individual initiatives to prevent further climate change before it is too late. Changing some of people’s daily routines and growing own food may seem too insignificant but it helps in both improving people’s health and the environmental health. People should quit having the specialization mentality and take matters into their own hands.  Pollan, therefore, encourages people to start bothering about the environment and try reducing their levels of carbon emissions.