I had every intention of participating in the climate change protest on Friday, but my body had other ideas. In the end, I wasn’t able to go.
So it was good to see it was a success, and that the issue is finally top of the global agenda. And wonderful that it’s led by the younger generations. Although I am doubtful there’s actually anything we can do now anyway, it’s probably waaay too late. We’re already fucked. It’s great that people are motivated and demanding something be done. But getting angry is unfortunately not going to refreeze glaciers and polar icecaps. Will it even change behaviour on the kind of mass scale needed? We still want our air conditioning, convenient car journeys, cheap flights, apples in July and asparagus in February.
Personally, my carbon footprint is low. I’m vegetarian. I don’t have a car. I don’t have children. I’m careful about energy use and I’d always use renewable if I could. I try to buy local – I’m conscious about food miles. I recycle, to save the energy needed to produce new materials. From now on, I will fly less (though it’s not like I’m a huge international jet-setter and I’d always rather take the train anyway).
I’ve been an environmentalist all my life; remember the greenhouse effect and the hole in the ozone layer because of CFCs in the 1980s? I wonder if because crisis was predicted and averted then, we think we’ll always be able to fix it. Though I learned many years ago that there was an even earlier opportunity to radically change how we do things, also ignored. The oil crisis of the 1970s (which in the UK resulted in a 3-day work week to save energy) could have – should have – been the catalyst for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. If the technology had been invested in then (before I was even born!), we might not be in such an irreversible mess now.
I honestly think it’s too late to stop the climate changing in the trajectory its already on and stave off disaster. Seas will rise, parts of the planet will become uninhabitable, sparking refugee crises we can’t even imagine. As a species, we are too many, too dependent on electricity, with a limited capacity to see much beyond our own lifespan.
But maybe not; it would be ridiculous to not even try to do something about the way we’re trashing the planet. We need urgent and massive reforestation, huge curbs in fossil fuel use, and a lot less livestock (i.e. “Plant trees! Walk or cycle! Eat plants!”).
Sometimes I mentally shrug my shoulders and think, meh, what do I care? I do my bit. I’m OK in my teeny little corner here. But then I am reminded that it is better to be engaged with life than abstractly philosophising and getting lost in my own navel, thinking about things to the point of paralysis, as I am so prone to do.
This happened last night, when (praise be to the God of the YouTube Algorithm) I got sucked into the mind of Henry Rollins, a man so captivating in his eloquent intensity. He is a total humanist, an American idealist and broadly optimistic about humanity. I saw him speaking about 15 years ago – he is a man that has completely found his niche and inspires me to engage with life and just Do It! Thanks Hank. It feels good to be mentally sharp.