by Rebecca Blaskopf

For the past decade, the worldwide environmental bandwagon has blown up; children in elementary school to senior citizens are all considering putting the world first.  However, even with so many fighting to keep the world from becoming an inhabitable place to live, there are some who still believe climate change is either a hoax or completely out of our control.  Some of these people are in fact related to me.

At a wedding last summer, I was reunited with some cousins I do not see very often.  At the reception, the issue of the environment was brought up, and I was shocked when I heard the bride exclaim, “I don’t believe in global warming. I think it’s all a bunch of crap.” I was even more taken aback when I heard another cousin agree with her.  It was shocking to realize that there are people in this country who do not think that global warming is an issue, even folks from my own family.

As I stood there, partly dumbfounded and partly not wanting to start a debate at a family event, I started to think about what to say to those who are similar to these family members. How are we supposed to get everyone involved in this worldwide issue, when some don’t even believe the issue exists?

After much deliberation and mental rough drafts made of what I would say to these cousins when I saw them again, I came to the conclusion that this event wasn’t just about figuring out how to respond to my relatives’ reasons for not being eco-conscious.  It was about discovering a passion, as corny as that may sound.

Before, I was somewhat eco-conscious; my family recycled, and we were always trying to conserve electricity and water. I believed that climate change was occurring, but that was generally the extent of my involvement and concern with the future of our planet.  After talking with these relatives who seemed so alien to what I had been taught, it made me realize that climate change is a larger and more important issue than I ever thought possible.  It made me want to educate myself on what global warming is all about, and when I learned that conservation does not mean deprivation, I wanted to spread the word to others.

That realization led me to take environmental classes in college, and even to volunteer at Bethesda Green.  So, even though I may still find my cousins’ opinions slightly illogical, I can thank them for helping me realize how important this topic is to both the world and myself.

Rebecca Blaskopf is a Bethesda Green intern and student at the University of Michigan.