I have just sat and watched the last episode of the most excellent Africa series from the BBC and the institution that is Sir David Attenborough, and I have tears streaming down my face, and feel compelled to ‘vent’ my feelings, so I’m afraid it is time for another rant…
What the hell are we doing?
Where is the planet headed, and can we do anything to stop what seems like the inevitable destruction of this place we call home?
Climate change is real. I think there can be no argument otherwise. Here in the UK we are seeing wetter Winters (and Summers too) with more flooding and more extreme weather, and this pattern is being repeated right way across the globe.
The global population is rising at a phenomenal rate, and already stands at a staggering 7 BILLION, and will continue to rise.
Where are all these people going to live? How are we going to feed ourselves? And what will happen when the resources needed to make energy, and ‘things’ run out?
I usually purposefully try and avoid watching programmes and reading articles about climate change, not because I am putting my head in the sand, but because it scares the crap out of me. It genuinely makes me feel really panicky.
It feels like the world is at a crucial tipping point, and if we don’t act NOW and act BIG then it will plummet headlong down a path of no return.
The human race will probably not cease to exist, but the world we live in will change beyond all recognition.
The wild animals of Africa, that the BBC so wonderfully highlighted in their latest series are already feeling the squeeze on their habitats, and are increasingly becoming ‘penned in’ by the encroaching human population.
Deforestation is causing changes in our weather patterns, as well as a loss of habitat for thousands of species.
The polar ice cap is melting and sea levels are rising.
The whole situation feels so completely futile. I feel so completely helpless to do anything about it. I am not the leader of one of the G8 countries, and I am not Sir David Attenborough. I am just me. And if world leaders are failing to respond to the likes of David Attenborough, what chance do I have of effecting any change?
Within a generation the world has already changed dramatically. What will happen in another generation’s time? And will our children turn around to us and say “What were you doing?” “How could you all have just sat back and let that happen?” “Why did you not do more to stop it while you still could?”
I genuinely don’t know what I can do. I feel so entirely powerless to do anything about it. And it scares me.
I am trying in my own small way to make changes to my family and the way we live to make it more sustainable. But is that enough? Would it ever be enough? Us repairing our washing basket seems entirely inconsequential when looking at the bigger picture.
Is it already too late? Can things still be pulled back from the brink?
I desperately hope so.
Oh Jen, I don’t know what to say!
I don’t know what we can do!?
I think it is too late in some senses, things are completely out of our control, to think that food sold in British supermarkets can be contaminated with meat from goodness knows where just highlights how corrupt the system is!
How can we get out of the system? It is so hard to just jump and get out of it all! We have no idea where the component parts of all our ‘things’ have come from and the effects that getting the raw goods has had on the environment that it was extracted from.
What you are doing is amazing so stick at it! Society is changing, and you are part of the change!!! We will get there but it may get even more messy before the change!
Thanks Catherine. So nice to know I am not alone! I think you are right, society is changing, but it is just whether it will be too little too late. I hope not.
I know exactly how you feel it seems impossible to stop the rot but giving up is not an option. Keep right on doing what you are doing, setting an example, making your own sacrifices, educating & entertaining :o)
Caring about our planet should be on the curriculum in schools worldwide, but in the meantime its up to us parents & grandparents.
I get so frustrated by the mindless morons who care more about Celebs & the trash they watch on TV instead of watching any David Attenborough series !
With the spread of social media perhaps we can all start spreading the word about the need to give our Earth a little TLC. From little acorns … etc !
You are so right Vivienne. There are lots of ‘life skills’ missing from the curriculum, and I’m sure the children learn about climate change, just not sure if it then gets ‘joined up’ to what positive action we can all be taking. We ALL need to be making little changes (and big ones too!) and not just waiting for the governments to take action, but it would help if we were given the impression that climate change was near the top of their agendas…
It’s unbelievably horrific, isn’t it? And so many of us feel outnumbered, out-dollared, and, quite honestly, powerless.
I agree with Vivienne – we simply must continue to live our lives with the Earth and her inhabitants in our thoughts and hearts, and make our words and actions noticed, educating ourselves and those around us, and never ceasing to care and take care.
Great words. We can only do what we can, but we MUST do what we can.
I don’t watch those programmes for the same reason…
I try to remember that actually there’s plenty of food worldwide, it’s transport and storage that’s the issue. Food rots in warehouses because of politics.
I also try to remember that individually, we can make a difference. National governments are basically reactive, not proactive, I think. The constant U-turns are because the public object strongly enough.
I’m not very good at national politics, I just think it is worth keeping going with what you think is right. Get involved with local things, work in your immediate community. On a tiny scale, both our present and previous neighbours were effectively ‘shamed’ into recycling properly! I didn’t say anything, they just saw what we did.
When I made a conscious effort to reduce our landfill waste, I asked the council for a smaller bin. I didn’t need to (and I checked that they’d reuse my ‘standard’ bin!) but I wanted to make a bit of a statement. The neighbours noticed. I hope that every time they see it they’ll think about why we’ve got a smaller bin.
I don’t know if you’ve come across Sharon Astyk. She’s good to read, for a realistic but positive view of peak oil and climate change. I’ve read ‘Independence Days’ and ‘Depletion and Abundance’, both of which I found really interesting. Both books to go back and reread. She also has 2 blogs:
She’s been posting at the scienceblogs address most recently, and many posts have been duplicated but there’s lots of interesting stuff. She had an Independence Days challenge going on for a while, when every week you planted, harvested and ate the food you’ve harvested, worked on skills you wanted to acquire, did something to prevent waste and something to build community. If everyone did that…
BTW, it’s taken me so long to post my comment (multi tasking!) that I’ve pretty much repeated what you’ve said in your replies! We must be on the same wave length anyway!
Thanks for such great comments! I will check out those links and books. Great work on the recycling.
I think that it is important that as well as relaying the message about climate change, programmes like Africa should have a section at the end or another episode where they tell us the action that WE as individuals (not the government, and not reporting on the very important schemes happening on the ground in Africa), but what WE can and should be doing, everyday, in our own homes and communities.
I think one way to quell that panicky feeling, (whilst of course, doing everything you can personally) is to look at all the people who aren’t sitting back and letting it happen without a fight. There are many of them thankfully! I thought that was one of the messages from the final Africa programme 🙂
Funny, just last night I was reading about climate change, which is something I do not usually do for the exact same reason as you! The whole idea of what could happen really scares me to put it mildly. However I’ve been thinking the following things:
1. We are all mortal and we will all die someday.
2. We fear dying because we love our lives!
3. Fear of death and fear of the effects of climate change are really both the fear of change!
So what we need to do is appreciate and be grateful for what we have – look after it, nurture it, enjoy it, care for it the best way we know how and know that whatever happens we / life on this planet will find a way to deal with it.
Also I agree with hmk71, by making the changes yourself to live in a way where you are more mindful of what you are doing to the planet, you will inspire others far more than if you try to tell them what to do!
I think for me, it’s more a fear of what we will be leaving behind for our kids, and grandkids. That is what scares me the most.
But you are right, we have to appreciate what we have and look after it.
Here’s my take (in brief) – people are, in general, focused primarily on their own lives and those of their family and friends and because of this they fail to see the bigger picture.
Ok they may watch Africa and they may well be aware of increased risk of flooding but until it directly affects them they are unlikely to act. Even with the floods last year, only around 8,000 homes were directly affected (if my memory serves) so the rest of us just see it on the news and then switch off to the whole reasons behind it.
We are starting to reach a tipping point, in my view, where food prices and energy prices get out of control and when this happens people will start to act because it directly affects their bottom line.
The governments around the world need to act before this time though because they are elected to do things in the best interests of their voters.
As for what you and I can do, we can be shining examples of what is possible – we can educate people on how being green can benefit their own lives and we can show them how easy it is.
You are so right Steve. Very few people will actually do anything until it starts to directly affect their quality of life. And the link between our actions and the weather is that clear I guess!
Part of what I am trying to achieve with the blog is showing people, as you say, how easy it is to make little changes that have a big impact on what we buy, and therefore on our carbon footprint. Just need to keep plugging away I guess..
Just so you know…the Climate Change secretary, Ed Davey, is on your side 😉 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9863408/Ed-Davey-climate-change-deniers-dogmatic-and-blinkered.html
The worlds climate has been much warmer and much colder throughout its history (its just that our species hasnt been around to witness most of it), and will be so again! The biggest source of greenhouse gases is the sea and theres not much we can do about that. Yes the climate is changing, but it always has and always will.
I do totally agree with you on the population/food production debate tho, why should the poorer countries be producing food for the richer ones when they cant feed themselves and so much food get spoilt and wasted as the produce isnt ‘perfect’ enough for the supermarkets and being destroyed instead of given/sold to the local populations! Food miles are ridiculous, why should our farmers get paid by Europe to leave so many of their fields idle when they could be producing food for us, and why oh why is such a big percentage of farm land in the USA being made to produce crops for turning into biofuels (theres another can of worms ) meaning the land cant be used for producing food.
GM crops made the headlines years ago when people didnt want anything to do with them, can some one explain why its wrong for poorer countries (like some of those in Africa) to be able to plant crops that can tolerate drought and therefore feed themselves? Oh, I forgot, then organisations which make alot of money out of sending ‘aid’ to these poorer countries wouldnt be needed. Sceptical – who me?
Crikey Jo. Some big points there!!
Thank you for your thoughtful article. I have noticed that with children arriving in my life I have disengaged more and more from climate change, and the direction the planet is heading in. It’s natural for me to want my children to have a better life than mine, but i can’t help but feel that that is not going to be the case, and like you feel futile. I have a garden big enough to grow vegetables… the price for the bigger garden was moving into the outer suburbs and being far more car dependant. Your blog is a great reminder that small changes can make a difference, it helps me to re-engage. Thank you.
Thanks Vicky. It is so hard isn’t it? I am genuinely scared what the future holds for my children, but I guess all I can do is change what is within my power to change. And that means taking small steps to make our lives more sustainable, and encouraging others to too.
Reading this blog and all the comments makes me feel desperately sad but also gives me hope at the same time. I have been concerned about the environment most of my life, but since having children I find it increasingly hard to read / watch without becoming utterly devastated. However reading your blog, and coming across others on Twitter makes me feel like I’m not alone and actually quite a lot of people feel the same way. Perhaps between us all we can make a difference?
I am the same. Reading or watching anything about climate change makes me feel totally and utterly panicked. The other night I ended up in floods of tears, and arguing with the lovely hubby as I didn’t feel he cared ‘enough’ (not sure it will go down as the greatest birthday he’s ever had..) There are a lot of people who feel the same, and we just have to hope that if we keep plugging away and telling as many people as we can, what we are doing and why, then maybe things will start to change. Actually, I think they already are changing, so maybe it will all gain momentum and soon big changes will start…
This is such a moving post, so many of us feel helpless. I am always thinking ‘will all the little things I do make a difference’ but its all we can do. The world is such a big place and there is so much to do. We must all be positive and just carry on the good work xx
Thanks Theresa. You are right, we can only do what we can do. BUT we can make a big stink about it too! I think it is really important to talk about what you are doing and try and get people to think a bit about their own actions, and the effects they are having on the planet. One of the aims of this blog is to prove to people that you just by taking some relatively small and painless steps you can make your life much more sustainable. If we all took little baby steps, it could have a huge impact.
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