I recently read an article on RollingStone.com entitled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” that made all my visions of the apocalypse seem trite. Without mentioning vampires, mysterious mass disappearances, or even demons, Bill McKibben illustrated clearly and concisely that we are on the cusp of dooming our planet to massive climate change that will destabilize ecologies everywhere and potentially wipe out life as we know it. 

Sound dramatic? It is. Head on over and read the article, and then come back. I’ll wait.

No, seriously, go read it.

Honestly, go on. It won’t take five minutes.

I remember teaching my sixth grade class about the Holocaust. They had already read The Diary of Anne Frank when I took over the class, and we went on to watch some videos and discuss what had happened and why. There was a general consensus amongst the kids that if they had been around during that time, they would all have helped the people being taken to the concentration camps and fought the Nazis and never stood aside to allow those atrocities happen.

“So why do you think so many people did let those atrocities happen? Why did so many millions and millions of people simply do nothing as they saw such horrible things happening before their eyes?”

Thirty pairs of eyes stared back at me, nonplussed. Finally the trouble maker in the class raised her hand. “Because they were evil?”

“Nope. I don’t think so. They were just normal people like you and me.”

“Because… they were cowards?”

“Maybe some of them were. There isn’t an easy answer to that question, but I want you guys to think about it. Why did those people do nothing when they saw something horrible going on?”

And today, after reading that article, I can ask the same question of ourselves. Moreover, I can imagine a sixth grade class a hundred years from now, where the teacher shows them a video of this next crucial decade, and asks the kids, “Why do you think all those people did nothing, when it was so obvious where things were going?”

Maybe they’re underground somewhere in a safe bunker, or relocated to northern Canada, one of the few places left that is still hospitable to humans. Wherever they are, I can imagine that teacher’s question hanging in the air, and thirty pairs of eyes staring right back him, completely confounded.

So I’ve decided to do something. It probably won’t save the world, but it’s a step in the right direction. From now on, I’m going to donate 10% of all my book sales to CarbonFund.org, a site that helps people offset their carbon footprint by using that money to fund third-party validated offset projects. Thus every fifty books I sell, I’ll be able to offset 1 ton of carbon. The average individual has a carbon footprint of about 24 tons, so for every 1,200 books I sell, I’ll be able to cover the damage one person is doing to the world.

I urge you to explore the CarbonFund.org site, and start thinking about your own carbon footprint. We’re all living in a critical decade, and what we do as a nation and a people in the next ten years may decide the literal future of not only our species, but every living organism on Earth.