By now just about everyone is aware of the reality of climate change. Some may argue about whether climate change is natural or man made. The science is clear – see http://theconsensusproject.com – but man made or not, climate change is our problem.
Business as usual
Some people acknowledge the problem but don’t feel it is up to them to do much about it. They may take a ‘business as usual’ approach and hope solutions will be found by others. If this is you, future generations are likely to judge you harshly. We are all witness to climate change; we can see where the train is heading and what lies in store if we do nothing; we all have a responsibility to act now both from a personal and a business point of view.
Head in the sand
Probably the most common reason for inaction is the hope that it will all go away if we ignore it. It won’t. (Ostriches by the way don’t actually bury their heads in the sand and neither should you!)
Rabbit in the headlights
Our awareness of climate change has happened very quickly. The reality of what is coming our way can feel at odds with our day to day lives which, by and large, continue much the same. This can feel odd, causing us to freeze in the face of impending disaster. It’s a dangerous place to be. This site will help you to act.
It’s all too confusing
On the one hand a compelling documentary like Cowspiracy persuades us to give up meat; then along comes an article debunking the whole idea. Then the writer of the article turns out to run a business ‘offering tailored services to companies across the world…..whatever your market, we can help you find the right story to tell.’ The point is that nothing is crystal clear, particularly since fossil industries have a track record of sowing confusion and doubt about climate change. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by this. Authoritative bodies have set out the general situation clearly and a little research on the internet (eg. this Wikipedia article about Cowspiracy) usually provides balance on particular aspects of the picture. There is no doubt that there is a climate emergency and no doubt that we need to act now.
Conversely, those who have been paying attention to the reality of climate change – perhaps by reading books like The Uninhabitable Earth – can feel a sense of despair. It can feel as if the problem is too big, that it is all too late. The answer lies in understanding our tendency to think the worst, rejecting nightmarish dystopian narratives, imagining a more positive vision of the future and acting now. See for example here and here.
We’re too small
Some people say that that unless China, India and the US reduce their carbon output, there is little point in the UK doing so. This is defeatist. The UK is around the third largest emitter of CO2 in Europe and Europe is the third largest emitter of CO2 in the world. See here. The countries of Europe have already taken a lead in reducing CO2 emissions. Only by reducing our own emissions do we begin to earn the right to ask others to do the same. In addition to looking at total CO2 emissions per country it is interesting to view emissions by CO2 per person where, arguably, the easiest reductions can be made. Using this metric Europe and China are roughly equal, India barely registers and the USA offers the greatest potential.
There are too many people!
The greatest stress on global resources is not how many of us there are, but how much we consume. Flying one way between New York and Los Angeles produces more carbon emissions than the average Nigerian does in a whole year. Have one child; have two. Just don’t have five. Help to create a more equitable world where people don’t need to have large families. Read more here and watch a great video (“People in the past never lived in ecological balance with nature; they died in ecological balance with nature.”) here.
It’s all too difficult
Oh not it isn’t! You can make changes right now in your organisation that will make a big difference. OK, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you; and likewise I cannot guarantee that the world won’t end tomorrow. But action feels good and will give you, your family, your business and our planet the best hope for the future.
Christopher Etchells, ECS, January 2020