I thought I’d let you inside, to shed light on what someone who campaigns about climate change feels under the hood. In my last post I mentioned that we can appear to be pleased about climate change and I promised to let you know the true picture. I’d be interested to hear from anyone reading how much of this rings true for them, or if I am alone.
How is it that everything we feel we want to do turns out to be bad for us? I love a drink occasionally, but that’s not good for your health, breath, head the following morning or for avoiding leaving the door open overnight. Fry-ups, cake, biscuits, pork pies, doughnuts – I’m salivating, thinking about them – but they’re not good for your arteries and processed meat leads to the big C. Sex before marriage will send you to hell. Some love to smoke, but that leads to the bigger C.
And it turns out that having bright, dimmable lights that some on instantly; long showers; too much heat in the house; open fireplaces; and travelling anywhere more than a few short miles away are bad for the planet*.
I’m not a religious man (I categorise myself as an active agnostic) – but this does all bring to mind the apple in the Garden of Eden. I often wondered what that symbolised – maybe it refers to everything desirable being bad?
Thing is that booze, greasy food, shagging about and smoking really only hurt the person doing them†. I’ve no problem with that – do what you like.
Wasting energy and burning fossil fuels, however, don’t really hurt the person doing them‡. They mainly hurt people in other parts of the world (if you are in the developed world while reading this) or in the future, such as our children. Because of this natural injustice it makes me Angry when people ignore the issue, blame China and the US while continuing with bad habits and make out their opinion on the scientific facts are as valid as 99% of scientific studies.
The other deep emotion I feel is mourning for the lost future. When I delve deeply to understand the root of this feeling, I realise that it is not only about the potential for world conflict and the loss of the natural world, but also my own personal lost future. The increasing apathy and even antipathy towards climate change makes me realise that I need to devote more and more of my own life to the cause. As former BP CEO Tony Hayward famously once said “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back”.
The emotions aren’t all negative, of course. This resolve gives me a life purpose that is hard to find from any other activity. As Bill McKibben said “Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be more important”.
I am also hopeful, even confident, that we will eventually win the argument. It is almost inevitable. Nature will not allow us to ignore climate change forever, as it will crank up the stakes and shove it in our face and across our flood plains.
How about others? When it comes to climate scientists, it seems that those that engage their emotions rather than carry out their duties in a detached way can feel depressed, even suicidal. A far cry from inventing the issue to get grant money.
How does it make you feel?
* Caveats required here: These days you can get fantastic bright, dimmable low energy light bulbs and you can heat your house with renewable energy sources, such as by capturing the heat from a log fire. I’ll stick by the others.
† Uh oh, more caveats. Yes, all these things done to excess can ruin families and cost the health service a fortune. And there is passive smoking.
‡ Here we go again. Of course it will hurt your back pocket. And too much driving means losing out on the opportunity of more exercise. And there are floods, droughts, crop failures and increased food prices.