The One Thing You Should Definitely Be Talking About At Thanksgiving Dinner This Year

Thanksgiving dinner is bound to include an interesting amalgamation of talking points — everything from who's vegetarian to Trump's latest offensive — but global warming is what everyone should actually be talking about this Thanksgiving. Despite Republicans' tendency to turn discussion of environmental protection laws into a discussion on the economy, global warming is not a partisan issue. It's a human issue that's not being addressed with enough immediacy in the general political sphere, let alone in the presidential debates.

The issue is either shoved aside by other hot button issues such as social equality or tax plans, or pushed to the back burner because Americans' everyday lives aren't noticeably affected yet. But at the world's current trajectory, future generations are going to have a rough time, unless we act preemptively. After ensuring that everyone is on the same page by discussing the science behind global warming and its implications, collectively brainstorming actions we as individuals can take is a great start to making a positive change. And where better to start than this Thanksgiving?

The Enduring Skepticism On Global Warning

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But most rational people understand that global warning is a thing, right? Nope. After being asked about his view on climate change, presidential candidate Marco Rubio made a comment that perfectly illustrates the way it is nonchalantly cast aside as a scheme by many politicians.

We are not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government we’re under now wants to do ... We are not going to destroy our economy. We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing to change our economy, to change our climate, to change our weather.

We're not willing to destroy the economy — but we're willing to destroy the earth?

A survey by Pew Research Center shows that this skewed agenda setting, largely determined by Republican politicians, has taken hold in the American mind. The results suggest that climate change is perceived as the top global threat when the concerns of each region are averaged. On the other hand, the United States ranked global economic instability, ISIS, Iran's nuclear program, cyber attacks, and tensions with Russia as a greater threat than climate change. It appears as though we're behind the rest of the world. Each of the presidential candidates were "graded" by eight scientists on what they've said about climate change. Democratic candidates certainly received significantly higher scores, but that doesn't mean they've focused on encouraging the American public to think about it enough.

It's Time To Pay Attention To The Science

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Let's use Thanksgiving as a means to set the agenda straight. Science backs climate change and proves that it's a bipartisan issue that should grab everyone's attention. A study conducted by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies compares the warming of the earth from 1880 to 2014 to change in the Earth's orbit, the Sun's temperature, volcanic activity, deforestation, ozone pollution, aerosol pollution, and greenhouse gas levels, covering the most plausible natural and man-made causes.

The strongest correlation, by far, exists between global warming and carbon dioxide emissions, aka greenhouse gases. Global warming is man-made, and we're going to feel the impact in years to come.

The Implications Are Serious

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The EPA lists some results of global warming that should spark our collective concern. They include reduced ice and snow cover, raised sea levels, drought, increased ocean acidity, increased intensity and duration of extreme weather events, and shift in ecosystem dynamics. Each of these factors potentially play a role in decreased agricultural yields and eventual decline in the quantity and quality of drinking water. Air quality is affected most immediately, as industrial regions become polluted and carbon dioxide facilitates the growth of outdoor plant allergens, such as ragweed.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, one third of all U.S. counties in the lower 48 states will experience water shortages and/or declines in water quality by 2050.

We Can All Take Action

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Thanksgiving is an opportunity to brainstorm what we can do to leave a smaller footprint individually and globally. For example, the Sierra Club features a long list of petitions that allows you to tell legislators what's most important to you, in terms of protecting the environment and addressing global warming. On the individual level, there are many ways to decrease your singular impact on the environment, but it will only be significant if others join you. Bringing environmentally friendly topics to the table can be fun and engaging for everyone. Here are some ideas :

  • Price options for buying a low carbon emission vehicle
  • Bicycles
  • Organic and locally-produced food
  • Recycling
  • Best reusable water bottles
  • Supporting local clean energy sources such as windmills
  • Solar panels

So, by all means, give thanks and enjoy the holiday — but while you're enjoying your turkey and drinking your wine, keep in mind that climate change is probably going to make your wine more expensive and worse-tasting. And that's just the beginning.

Image: Rasulov/Fotolia; Kevin Frayer/Getty Images, LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images, DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images, JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images