When following discussions in the web development community, you can read a lot about topics like inclusion, diversity, accessibility and so on. While all these topics are important and should not be missed, I barely read about a topic that concerns me as no other: climate change.
Thinking about why this is, it seems that climate change has nothing directly to do with the web development community. We are building websites, most of us from 9 to 5, some as freelancers, some as open source contributors, others engaging actively in the community.
How we deal with the climate change seems more of a private topic though. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they can do: eating less meat, flying less, taking the bike instead of the car, etc.
But I think this is only partly true.
Around two years ago, my client, their client and I had a kickoff meeting in London. My client and I flew there from Hamburg in the morning and back in the evening. There were around 15 people, but only three or four were actually talking. Yes, it is always good to get to know everyone in person, but there was nothing happening that required physical presence.
I also see more and more conferences popping up everywhere. With every new technology, every new framework lots of conferences around that specific topic are organized. Developers from the whole world come together, meet people they maybe only know from chatting online, making new friends, going to workshops.
I know that many of us love these events outside of our every day life. And I know that you can not forbid people to fly around the world.
But I really think that we need to think about if this is actually necessary.
There are thousands of articles describing what is going to happen if we fail in stopping the earth from heating up. The earth in 20, 30, 50 or 100 years would probably be completely different from what it looks like now. All our new technologies and our knowledge might not mean anything at all anymore as instead we might fight with our neighbours about food, water and a place to live.
Is it worth it?
Again – I know that meeting someone digitally is not the same as meeting someone in person. But I think that whenever it is possible, it is our duty to do so. For too long we were living at the expense of future generations to just continue like this.
You might say that the web development community is too small, that we do not have enough power or that not getting on a plane to fly to the next conference is not going to change anything.
This is true. And not.
Us alone not flying anymore does not change anything, yes. But if everyone thinks that way, we will definitely lose. Do you want to continue as we do just because others do not care? I do not. I do not want to feel guilty. I do not want to feel that I have not given everything just because other people do not care.
It is my strong belief that we will only be able to stop the climate change with renunciation and technology.
And as no other industry in the world, we are able to build tools, that connect people in the whole world. We can stop jumping on planes and instead use the tools we have. Improve them. Build new ones. Spread them.