Orla Brady discusses finding the Romeo to your climate crisis-fighting Juliet.
The state of emergency that the world is facing with regards to the climate crisis is impossible to avoid. It only takes a quick scan of social media or a glance at daily news stories to see that our climate is being threatened at a rapid and dangerous rate. The global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion has orchestrated a number of protests around the UK over the past year in order to raise awareness of this issue. However, the disruption that these have caused in major cities has sparked a debate surrounding whether their ideology justifies their actions. Whilst Extinction Rebellion has gone to extreme measures to make the world aware of the urgency and danger surrounding climate change, Donald Trump has maintained an opposing stance by flying the flag for climate crisis deniers since the beginning of his presidential reign. In 2017, Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, claiming that the agreement was detrimental to the American economy. He has also labelled the climate crisis as “mythical” and “nonexistent” which has, unfortunately, influenced and divided the opinions of many surrounding the state of the climate.
Outspoken climate activists, such as Greta Thunberg, have shone a beacon of hope on this disaster by dedicating their lives to educating the world on how to protect not only our future but that of future generations. Yet criticism of political figures such as Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro and their rhetoric concerning the climate remains strong. Growing discussion and awareness surrounding our planet is, undoubtedly, a positive step forward. I am sure many of us can recall several occasions where the climate has arisen during conversations with friends, family, or colleagues. However, it is true that opinions remain divided, with some showing support for Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, and others sympathising with political figures who openly deny this state of emergency.
But can members of these opposing groups maintain personal or romantic relationships? According to American-based online dating website OkCupid, no. At the beginning of this year, they unveiled a new feature in a bid to improve singleton’s chance to find sustainable romance. This feature means that users can now filter out potential matches who identify themselves as climate crisis deniers. This comes after a 240% rise in discussions surrounding the environment, according to data from OkCupid shared with Earther magazine. Buzzwords include “climate change”, “environment”, “global warming”, “Greta Thunberg” and “recycle”, showing that the discussion surrounding the state of the climate has become such a pertinent issue that it has even infiltrated our dating lives. However, this raises the question of whether opinions regarding topical world issues - be them political, social, environmental and so on - explicitly impact upon the decision of who we would like to pursue romantically.
Naturally, if you are a very strong-minded individual who will not be swayed in their views, you may choose to avoid the risk of heated arguments that may occur as a result of clashing opinions, particularly with regards to the climate. Spending time with an individual who holds a conflicting opinion from yourself may not be of interest to you - a decision that is entirely justifiable. However, topical issues will always come alongside debate and conversation, which is a healthy way to educate both ourselves and other people through sharing various points of view concerning the issue in discussion. Therefore, by closing ourselves off to individuals who do not mirror our views may hinder our quest for a suitable partner.
That said, the climate crisis is far too serious an issue to excuse those who deny its existence. The evidence showing that the climate crisis is an immediate threat to our future outweighs and contradicts those who argue it is a myth. Siding with the words of figures such as Trump and Bolsonaro is a dangerous route to take as it trivialises the plight of educated figures who work tirelessly to protect our planet. Unfortunately, it will take more than debate and discussion to change their minds, and the worry remains that it may be too late when we all fully understand the extent of the danger that we face. In the same way, we may choose to avoid potential partners who exhibit racist, sexist or classist behaviour, it is understandable, and arguably displays a strong sense of character, to filter out climate deniers during our quest for love.