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.
Little Terraced House says
Gavin, agree with you wholeheartedly, there is no real leadership regarding this problem anywhere (I’m in the UK as you know)Our government is just playing with this issue, or making noises that they and the rest of the idiot EU are doing such and such, well none of it is good enough, nothing except serious, really serious change is going to help. Fair play for you for all that you are trying to do, you have my full support !
Big hugs to you and Kim xxx
Margaret's Ramblings says
I am sure you are right Gavin. In the supermarket when the alarm goes off, no-one moves, not even the staff. I often feel like standing behind the tills and screaming, EMERGENCY – DON’T USE PLASTIC BAGS, but I’m sure that if anyone looked up they would shrug their shoulders and just carry on. Margaret
Gavin i agree too, it’s similar to the financial crisis, many Aussies haven’t got it yet, things are going to get worse, we’re just on the end of the line. Read on Rolling Stone recently that one of the most eminent scientists of our time James Lovelock (“The Prophet of Climate Change”) thinks that global warming is irreversible and that 6 billion people will perish by the end of the century, now that’s scary. Joy
Cabbage Heart says
Its more than an emergency, its more than a crisis. Us simpltons do try as best we can to reverse or put on hold, but with brick walls in our way the Government is making it so hard. I’m still stunned that the credit you recieve for putting energy back into the grid isnt the same as what you would pay if you used it. Thats just ripping off the environment as well as yourself. Where’s the incentive?
Good on you Gav, Go smash Peter Garrett around the ears with your veiws and simple way of life. The most influencial Greenie of my generation has sold himself and the environment out to the Fatcats for a quick buck. Made more money as a politician than a Greenie and the taste of all that money is sweeter than any home grown Tomato. He use to be a womble, now he’s just a wanker!
I wonder where the leader is? Could I by any chance be conversing with him now? GO GET EM GAV I have every confidence in you but watch out for the red tape don’t let them tie you in knots ELLIE
Darren (Green Change) says
You’re absolutely right again, Gav.
This is why I think it’s really worthwhile doing all those little things, like refusing plastic bags, growing vegies and fruit in your front yard, turning off your computer at night when you leave work, etc. You won’t save the Earth doing those things, but it gets the people around you thinking.
They’ll start doing some of those things, just because they’ve always thought they should but nobody else seemed to be doing it and they didn’t want to be “weird”. You’ve now made it OK for them to do it.
There’s a snowball effect, too, where their friends and families will see what they’re doing, and they’ll start to think it’s OK too, and so on and so on, until eventually you’ve got whole communities acting.
There’s power in small, visible actions.
You inspire me, Gav.
You’re so right about this. The government won’t respond unless the people act like it’s an emergency and protest. So it’s clear what we have to be doing!
Firstly, Congrats on the interview, lets hope people pay attention.
As for the lack of action toward Climate Change, I’m not overly surprised. We’ve become an apathetic species. If Maccas was closed for a day, that would be a crisis. The planet slowing broiling it’s way to extinction, it’s a matter of, she’ll be right mate, it won’t affect us. That’s the sad truth of today’s society, unless something effects them RIGHT NOW they aren’t interested, not their problem.
Keep up the great work.
Cosmic and Co says
Excellent Gavin! I am sure you will be speaking for many of us bloglanders who are trying to do the right thing by the planet and our families.
Regards Cosmic and Co.
john (dad) says
yes gav keep putting it to them .surelly one day they are going to wake up and listen to the people that put them there
Keep at them mate, I can sense PG shaking in his boots