Fighting the Creeping Catastrophe
The threat of nuclear war is obvious, easy to identify and has to be opposed through political action – including lobbying, demos and publicity of all other sorts. Climate change, on the other hand, is the largely hidden, creeping catastrophe which threatens the habitability of the whole planet and must be fought on many fronts.
In the case of climate change there is no ‘silver bullet’ ! There is no single, simple target. A better analogy is the shotgun, whose many pellets can hit many targets at one go.
We need to aim both to change our own personal lifestyles and to push for the political changes that are needed. Action on the one can promote a positive feedback on the other.
The ‘Steered’ Conversation
When we talk to people on this subject we need to address one issue at a time (in order not to make the person feel overwhelmed, discouraged and helpless), and to mention something personal to ourselves. When we make a change in our lifestyle to benefit the planet (for instance by cutting down on the use of the car), we need to explain to those around us why we have done it. This may seem like bragging, but a diplomatic and sensitive mention of it is necessary and usually fruitful because: –
- It can give the other person a good and practical idea worth copying, and
- It can turn idle chit-chat into an important conversation – one that may ‘smoulder’ in the mind of the friend or acquaintance with good, long-term consequences. If your initiative causes your correspondent to bring up connected issues, so much the better.
Here are some of the things my wife and I do – or try to do – and that I bring into the conversation. And where there are personal benefits I mention those, too.
- We do all we can to avoid waste of food because food production is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (and avoiding waste also saves us money!). Political: we support on-line campaigns against food-chain systems that waste food.
- We try to avoid flying, again because of the big CO2 emissions – and we regret being obliged (for family reasons) to fly to Denmark this year. Political: we support a campaign to re-instate the direct ferry and the sleeper trains and oppose airport expansion.
- We invest money in banks and firms that don’t extract fossil fuels and (personally) don’t suffer losses when they collapse. Political: we lobby for decisions that help them collapse!
- We try not to buy products from firms who are responsible – for instance – for tropical forest destruction and (politically) we support on-line campaigns (e.g. those run by SumofUs) that pressurise such firms.
- Our earth is threatened not only by human greed and ignorance but also by the sheer weight of human numbers. That is why we limited our family size (which also helped our personal economy). Politically we help to spread the word on the dangers of over-population (through the organisation Population Matters.)
- We are Green Party members and supporters, because it is the only party with a joined-up range of policies to tackle these life-and-death issues. Personally we gain from this by meeting sympathetic friends !
I have to admit, though, that this item on the Green Party is often an exception to the “one point at a time” rule!