I once asked a friend with a worn car engine what she was going to do about the increasing engine rattling, she said she would turn the radio up!
It’s a bit like climate change denial. People appear to be in several camps as to what to do. Some need more facts; some believe that anything major has to be someone else’s job; some think ‘live it up, we’re doomed’ and some employ piecemeal approaches, perhaps minimising the use of plastic bags, whilst generating an enormous carbon footprint elsewhere. Then there are those who are genuinely motivated about the issue but need guidance and reliable information to make effective change to their lifestyle whilst paying a premium for sustainable products.
Then we have governments, who tend to speak the language of big business because of the tax revenues they generate, producing piecemeal measures that attempt to assuage the public’s concern and using badly hypothecated means of reducing carbon. Then we have vested interests of the shareholders and owners of many companies.
It’s a fierce mix, which does not look too good for the planet as we lose species every day that may offer the very biodiversity that holds future new medical cures and other benefits for all.
Denial and projection are common human psychological defences. Denial typically comes when we are overloaded or rendered powerless. We ignore our reality and go on regardless. Projection involves abdicated responsibility in favour of others. It goes something like – young people contending the world is doomed because of ‘boomers’ exploitation, whilst queuing to replace year-old iPhones! Or perhaps it’s China using coal-fired power stations, to fuel their industries, missing the bit about their cheaper goods that we love to buy and then discard. We avoid the complexity of the situation and simply place blame elsewhere.
We share this earth together and must radically change our thinking now. Diets need to change, including much less meat. Goods must be well made, repairable, upgradable and durable with longterm supply chains of spares. Products, particularly food, need to be locally sourced. Road traffic needs to decline and the movement of goods minimised. We need thoughtfulness in every aspect of our day, walking to the shop, extra layers rather than turning up the heating, stilling car engines running when not in motion, fly less and much more. We must be more politically active to force councils into full recycling and encourage governments to adopt national economic development programs around sustainable, ecological building and renewables. Clothing needs to last longer, be recyclable and not just for this season. Materials are needed that recycle many times over. All this requires action, thought, conscientiousness, care for each other and care for other species. We need politicians to know we will be on their case for not tackling multinational polluters.
Greta Thunberg’s book makes for uncomfortable reading. Our future is scientifically linked to an estimated point of no return in eleven years, when CO2 released from melting polar ice caps will exponentially accelerate greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. A too little too late response just won’t cut it. Future archaeologists, if they exist or have re-evolved from other surviving species may well find artefacts of this Anthropocene age and conclude homo sapiens were the most destructive species ever to have evolved. And the most foolish!
This is everyone’s problem, and everyone must contribute to the solution.