Right. I said I’d do this: give an answer to how we can best do something in the face of the devastating, overwhelming climate crises we are living in, particularly in Australia where the latest wildlife toll is over 1 billion.
Can I be honest? I am overwhelmed, exhausted and bewildered, and have been grieving for the planet and for humanity for several years. And so these past few weeks, as the nature of this wonderful country that I love and retreat to has been desecrated at the hand of the consumer culture I abhor, I’ve found it really really hard answering this question, “What can I do?”, for the answer can very quickly become overwhelming – for me and everyone else. Which is not what we need today.
So, I’ve thought long and hard. I’m going to answer here, in my style. My style is to map out a path that feels morally, spiritually, humanely and elegantly right at a soul level, while being deadly effective and as researched as possible.
I’ve interviewed four IPCC scientists, climate psychologists, Bill McKibben (possibly the most prominent voice in the debate; please read his op-eds), politicians and countless activists around the world and I’ve weighed everything up in my heart and head and I’ve almost self-combusted as I’ve done this… and I’ve decided that it’s not useful for me to try to condense everything I’ve learned into a neat list of do-able fixes…because you might self-combust with the overwhelm, too. Nor do I think it’s useful to get caught up in whether being vegan or not having kids or never flying again or protesting or writing letters to our MP is the best or better approach. No one really knows. And too much time and care is wasted in the arguing and virtue signalling. (That said, I will share a mixed bag of the most deadly effective stuff over coming weeks on social media and might add to this post as I go).
The fact is: The entire world must reduceCO2 emissions to zero by 2050 (at the very latest) so temperatures do not go over 1.5C above pre-industrial levels (at a maximum) to survive. I did a tight cheat sheet on all this that can be found here. We must enact this within 12 months from now if we have a chance of the current situation here in much of Australia not being the “new normal”.
How can we possibly do this? I’m going to give my most succinct, heartfelt, truthful, deadly effective answer…
My answer? We must do everything we can.
It’s as simple as that. We eat ethically, we rail against our PM, we speak up, we stand up and rally, we quit drivin cars,, we stop buying online…as much as we can. I have five points to explain.
First, the criticalness and scale of the situation demands we throw the kitchen sink at it. And now. Not tomorrow. Timid, compromised approaches won’t work. Either/ors won’t get us there. And I say this often, everything we’ve been doing has caused this, so we will need to do everything we can to reverse it.
(Some are referring to the crisis as omnicide: the killing of everything.)
Besides, if you were told you had 12 months to change your life in order to save your child, or your mum, who is burning with a life-threatening sickness, you would throw everything at it, right? This is where we are at. Seriously. Which sounds overwhelming if you keep things didactic and fear-driven. But…
Second, action begets action. So just start and do more and more until you reach your point of “everything you can”. I have watched as people have started recycling, which sees them start reading information about plastics and then reducing their use of said plastics. Plus, when we act, those around us are inspired to lift into action, too. Do something, then it becomes everything and everyone very fast. I’ve already talked about the 3.5 per cent phenomenon.
A good place to start? Get informed. The rest will take care of itself from there.
Read The Guardian, The Guardian Australia, The New York Times, MotherJones. You can find my full list here.
Third, there is no wrong answer (if you are doing everything you can). There is no silver bullet, only radical, mass, exciting, exponentially infectious care.
If you can’t go vegan, you can certainly eat less meat and you can absolutely not waste any of it, which is the less sexy, but actually most effective way to approach this part of the equation.
Fourth, everything you do does make a difference. For the above reasons. And because acting is always better than sitting back paralysed by the idea that there is Only One Way. There isn’t One Way. There’s only caring like a motherfucker. One of the worst things we can do right now is let the pessimists tell us our individual actions won’t impact. Because such a psychological rationale sees us all do nothing. And we need mass. And we need cascading, exponential spreading of action. Which leads me to…
Finally, and most importantly and powerfully, when we act we stop feeling hopeless and helpless. This is what has happened for me. The more I got engaged and vocal and committed, and the more I sacrificed my old life, the happier and more energised I have become. I am more fired-up, committed, strapped in and hopeful than I have been about anything in my life.
This is my truth. This is my style.
I think this is what everyone I know and meet wants to hear: Just do everything you can. Don’t stop, don’t think there is one way to do it, don’t get caught up in granular fights. Just keep acting and then acting some more. Keep going.
And all the while, please take comfort in the fact, that “everything I can do” is going to look different to “everything you can do”. And this is fully fine. More than fine. Because we all just want to see each other caring and acting and spreading.
I see so many beautiful fellow humans feeling the most terrible guilt. They work in the ultimately unsustainable fashion business. They drive an SUV. They have to fly to London for work next week. They get anxious if they read too many Facebook posts on the fires updates. My yoga instructor told me she admits she’s only just woken up to what’s going on. My friend bought an Apple watch yesterday. This is fine….so long as you switch to doing everything you can now – learning, reading, questioning, doing uncomfortable things, going without…yes, going without. This is deadly… if we let the guilt, the overwhelm, our past failures paralyse us into non-action now.
As I say, I will keep sharing tricks, techniques, approaches, ways and means on Instagram and Facebook or wherever is most deadly effective
over coming weeks forever. I will break things down if it becomes apparent that’s what people would like. #giveashit