What you waiting for? 2030 is coming… 2020 comes sooner. We have a garden, and we are trashing it.
I have a life. I was given privileged access to the most beautiful, amazing, intricately connected, ‘paradise’ in the whole of the known universe. Our little planet. She is green, and blue and brown and swirled in white. She is benevolent, ancient, forgiving and, also, like older mothers the world over: tired. So very tired of her children thinking they can keep on leeching from her, drilling into her, scorching her, abusing her. So in the end, she fights back. I don’t know if she’s even fighting. It’s just she’s exhausted, and she’s giving up.
My book* says: ‘The climate naturally tends towards a stable state; when disturbed it gradually returns to stability. It’s like a ball being kicked about in sand dunes usually rolling back into the hollow where you stand (as with the Krakatoa eruption) – in 1883 – when the earth cooled by 1.2 C. But the ball might go over a ridge and roll into a different hollow. The last glacial period was one of these hollows, and it excluded humans from much of the planet. We don’t know for certain how far we have kicked the climate. It could be balancing on a ridge where another jolt will roll it into a different hollow. If this hollow allows runaway global warming we will be in deep trouble.
We live in a world that I adore. But lately I am finding it hard to find anything to smile about. This is how I feel governments, leaders, mega-rich, users of pure indulgent amounts of energy:
I feel ashamed to be human. Ashamed to be homo sapien. Because I live an indulgent western lifestyle and I buy into all this crap. And I don’t know any other way to live.
You – you with your false promises of sorting our way out of a nightmare situation with yet more technology, more consumerism, more ‘off-setting’ (never was a dirtier word said), more aviation industry (HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY JUSTIFY MORE FLIGHTS – EXPANDING AIRPORTS WHEN WE HAVE A CARBON REDUCTION TARGET OF 45% – and this is variable up to 80% depending on what sources you take from – MINIMUM BY 2030?) What kind of government are you? How can you be so bound by economic shortsightedness? How can you be so cruel? Did you think we’d just wake up on the 31st December 2029 and have all the infrastructure in place for a massively reduced carbon country? Carbon world?
Sure, you talk the talk Mr Johnson, the latest in a long-line of wibbly-wobbly PM’s on this issue – but your track record shows your true colours. You have been recorded many times saying that you don’t rule out the findings of that interesting meteorlogist Piers Corbyn – who argues it might all just be symptoms of our dear star, the sun. Great. You’re not 100% convinced man-made climate change is actually real. If this is what we’re dealing with here, a world leader with all the influence and power that goes with it, flip-flopping around the subject, because in the end, capitalism as the busines-as-usual model, suits him just fine – what then? We haven’t got time Mr Boris Johnson. We don’t have time. We are your people. This is our host planet. Do not be myopic. Do not be cruel. I have children. So do you. Do you not get panic attacks in the middle of the day like I do, wondering if we’ll just ‘tip over the edge’? I can’t bear what we’re leaving for them. Don’t make me contribute to this evil. Help me find my way out. Give me subsidies if you like. Make it easier for me to get an electric car, help get me off an oil-fired boiler.
Ban flights. Enforce skype meetings if you have to. Be radical. I can’t afford you not to.
Your time scales are not in-line with the scientific evidence. And this is my greatest concern. 45% reduction or 80% reduction – we’re not headed for any of it. At the moment, guess what? Our emissions are only increasing. The figure of reduction from the early ’90s has already been shown to be skewed by Greta Thunberg and the scientists as being ‘tweaked’ from the demolition of the old coal power houses.
Our deadlines are much more pressing. We need all fossil fuel cars to be electric. Tomorrow. But it doesn’t work like this. Yet here we are. Our kindly Mother Earth doesn’t really care about our ‘economic targets’, or our flights to the Caribbean (or Europe for that matter). She doesn’t really care about our industry, our manufacturing industries, she doesn’t care about our need to dump 8 million disposable nappies filled with toxic shit (human waste is not toxic alone, but when combined with the liquids in general waste it creates a very toxic cocktail indeed) into her every single day.
Mother Earth has waited. She waited through the Victorian Industrialists’ hey-day of coal-burning, manufacturing things, kick-starting our current dystopian way of life; she waited all through those two bloody World Wars, while we were too busy running around murdering each other to consider how lucky we are to be alive at all; she waited while we wrapped up in patriotic glory our ‘wins’ against the ‘enemy’ and focused our efforts on re-building at home, finding capitalism our hope, our tool to reach for a never-ending prosperity, that taught us that the sky was the limit, that fossil fuel energy was basically ‘limitless’, as it seemed then, a ‘black gold’ of a cheap, bountiful supply, that would make us all live like royalty.
We do. Live like royalty. In comparison to medieval royals even the average ‘poor person’ in a western developed country, has a pretty good time. Our poor in our rich nations, with the exception of the much-tabooed homeless class, generally are well catered for, though food banks in our new crazy world may testify the opposite of this.
But we can’t all take, take, take. You wouldn’t expect a free meal at your friend’s house every night of the week without offering to host in return would you? But that is what we are doing. The earth likes cycles. Circles. Nature’s balance has been carefully engineered over millenia to use, excrete, recycle. The makers of the Lion King understood it. Scientists understand it. Why can’t fossil fuel companies? Oh wait, I know the answer to that one already – short term gain over long term pain.
OK, fine then how about we find a mediator – a neutral force (perhaps one even intent on having our best wishes at heart) – oh let’s say, why not? A Government.
Yes! That’s it! Let’s allow this special mediating force to say ‘Hang on a minute, you – super industralists – you can’t just carry on like this – we have Bigger Powers than you. And we’re trumping you. Game Over.’
How about it? Anyone?
It’s all been said before – the earth has enough resources for everyone’s need, but not everyone’s greed. It’s a cheesy cliche’ but it’s true.
I’m going to do everything I can to use carbon calculators, to do a ‘Green Spreadsheet’, to look at everything I think I can change and tackle it. But I know I’m a minority. Even amongst my well-meaning (and perfectly nice) friends.
45% by 2030 (or let’s face it – better than this.) How are we ever going to get there? I admit it. I’m scared. Because now I have woken up from the ‘Golden Days’ of endless ill-considered use. I now much more fully understand the damage of everything I do. I can’t un-know it. And I have no where to go. I can make my few changes. I will seek out like-minded people, wherever they are finding, at rallies, and meetings and on forums.
But will it ever be enough?
If you feel the same as me, please write to me. I am transitioning into a terrible place of Eco-anxiety at the moment and I need all the friends I can get. I am having regular environmental awareness panic attacks that cause a tightness of chest and now for me to unexpectedly cry at social engagements. I am scared, lonely, angry and frustrated. I am also absolutely 100% in love with our planet and always have been, since I was a little girl. I need allies. I need you.
*What about China? Sawday’s, Fragile Earth series. 2008. Yes, that’s right 2008. The year my first child was born. Over a decade ago and urgently telling us everything we needed to know back then. Since then it is shameful the direction of the emissions curve. Of course the first knowledge of the damage of Co2 was in late 1800s…