When I talk to people about the seriousness of climate change and peak oil (which, if you read this article about the current research on the climate crisis, you soon realise is far more dire than anything you’d guess if you only follow the mainstream media), people tend to not take me too seriously, for two reasons:
- "If what you say is true, why isn’t the government doing a lot more?", and,
- "If what you say is true, why aren’t there people protesting in the streets? Why isn’t there a really big, loud protest movement?"
Therefore, one reason for taking drastic public measures in the form of activism, street marches, protests, walk against warming etc. in addition to just changing your life as best you can is quite simply to create a sense of urgency in the general population. Because right now, that sense of urgency is not there at all. Mind you, that may change pretty soon if water gets scarce and food supplies dwindle.
The mechanism that counteracts the creation of a sense of urgency by the usual means (i.e. by articles about droughts, heat-waves, melting ice shelves etc. in the newspaper, posts in environmental blogs similar to mine, and speeches by our political leaders) is this:
A while ago, I was working at in an office tower, when there was an alarm. It sounded like it might be something serious, but I didn’t know for sure. So I looked around to see how other people reacted. Since nobody seemed overly worried, I concluded that it was probably not a signal to leave the building, and so I continued working instead of running down the fire stairs (sure enough, it turned out to have been some technical glitch with the alarm system).
The same happens in the larger context. When ordinary people read truly alarming stuff in the newspaper, hear it on the radio, or see it on TV, they will check around them to see how everybody else is reacting. If other people don’t seem to be overly worried, they’ll shrug, decide that the alarming report was probably exaggerated, and continue about their daily business.
Only in the case of climate change and peak oil, we know it’s not a technical glitch, and it’s not an exaggeration, either. They really should be worried. Not being worried, right now, could turn out to be fatal for the entire human race. An all this talk about saving the planet is rubbish. We need to save ourselves from ourselves. The planet will get along just fine with out us, albeit in a slightly altered state, but with a lot less species inhabiting it.
It is this reason, in my humble opinion, is why we need to start behaving like people who really do believe they are living in the time of the greatest emergency mankind has ever faced. We need visible and drastic action because only visible and drastic action communicates to people that there is an emergency going on.
My reaction of late has been a strong one. Not only am I trying to live a sustainable life, I am now acting as if there is a real emergency (there really is, you know), hence me jumping at the change to get politically vocal any way I can. If more people also begin to notice the emergency, then my work is done, and people will begin to act in a better way to help avert the climate crisis by voluntarily lowering their carbon footprints, or alternatively, the government of the time acting on policy and legislating large cuts in emissions and change the way we use fossil fuels. Crisis over, and the emergency really goes away.
I believe that in this point in time that this will be the only way we will be able to save ourselves, unless a global leader takes the reigns and leads us down the right path to avert the emergency. But leadership is a rare commodity indeed in our current democracies. It will be up to people like you and I to step up to the crease and bat to a record score! Food for thought indeed.