Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Just Me?
I’ve always thought it best to avoid certain topics in either conversation or in writing. Mainly those that I don’t really have a lot of knowledge on or upon which I feel I may not necessarily have a right to voice my unfounded opinion, either due to my age, sex, race, or societal status. Say the wrong thing and you could find yourself in a whole world of trouble, fuelling unnecessary arguments about something that the other person feels passionate about and is far more well-versed in the topic than you are.
Topics like these could include things such as racism, history, those on ethnic minorities and politics amongst a myriad other things. They can really ignite a passion in many, either positively or negatively, and I feel that after reading a lot of what you see online, many people (on both sides of an argument) tend to just blurt out whatever their feeling at that moment without giving it much thought. I don’t like to generalise, but I have a strong belief that it is probably the case, especially on platforms such as on Twitter or Facebook where there is little consequence to people leaving their apoplectic opinions and riling up hatred wherever they post. Even on conversations on trivial things such as ‘What is the best Zelda game?’ can lead to levels of vitriol which are ridiculous given the context. But who am I to say what people should and shouldn’t get angry about?
I have long got out of the habit of leaving slightly snide remarks on SNS boards, for example remarking on a person’s misspelling of a word, from which I used to garner the slightest and pathetic pleasure. I think it is true that as ones grows, one can become wiser, but that does not necessarily mean that one will. I and I am sure many others can attest to that. However, I can say that I have definitely become a lot more aware of things, but not without conscious effort. I have, on occasion, typed out a reply to someone and then read it a couple of times over, only to delete it and abandon the post entirely. Why? Because I question what I will gain from leaving such a comment and how it may make the other person feel. Ultimately I feel that should I leave that comment, it will only lead to an argument and ill feeling, and I have learnt that arguments are never truly won and I would much rather just avoid it completely to focus on something much more positive and much more constructive. As the old saying goes, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, and that is something that I can agree with (in most cases, anyway!).
A topic that I thought was included in this group, and the one that I am going write about today and what I intend to continue to write about in the future, is that of global warming and climate change. The reason why I decided to start writing about something that I don’t really know much about at this stage, is that it is something that despite my lack of knowledge, one that is extremely important to me, and also one that I feel everyone should take seriously. I want to share with you my experience and continued understanding of something that I think is incredibly important but not many people think about or act on in their lives.
I don’t think it takes an absolute genius to realise that the world is not heading in a good direction. I’d like to be able to share my concern that, to put it extremely simply, if the human race decides not address the way in which it continues to treat the planet, it will die. Now, that could be considered extreme, but maybe that’s how it should be. It is unlikely that perhaps it will affect me much in my lifetime, but that does not mean that I should shun it or not consider how it may affect my unborn children and grandchildren, or any other person yet to be born at that!
People in many countries across the world have been able to reach such luxurious levels of living that it seems that it is now impossible to turn back. Why would they want to? I am one of those people. Sure, my quality of living is nothing compared to the super rich who freely fly around in their own personal jets, but I certainly have very little that I can complain about that wouldn’t boil down to a simple ‘first world problem’. It’s a difficult discussion to have. To tell people that their way of living is detrimental to the planet as a whole, and may choose to ignore that fact because their lifestyle is so comfortable that they cannot and will not let go. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? What will I do without the convenience of being able to buy a bottle of Coke from my local corner shop? What if I can’t update my wardrobe every month? What will I do if I can’t buy the latest iPhone?
I believe it is time that many people who are in a position to do so, should look at their consumption habits and consider how they can be changed for the betterment of the planet and its inhabitants as a whole. Note that I use the word ‘inhabitants’ and not ‘people’ or ‘humans’, because of course we are not alone on this planet; our actions in the pursuit of comfort and rapacious consumption affects nearly ever corner of the globe and the animals that live there. From the humble bumble bee to the great elephants, climate change has a big impact on all. I think it is time to stop, look and listen to what is going on in the world outside of our immediate purview.
And what better place to start than from myself? It’d be hypocritical of me to go on about changing habits without starting a few myself and that is my intention. I understand that nothing that I do alone will make a large impact and that I cannot just suddenly decide to drop every comfort in my life in order to achieve the ultimate goal. Life doesn’t work that way, and the societal structure in which I live would not allow it. If everyone suddenly one day decided to stop buying new clothes or stop purchasing drinks in plastic bottles, why, the whole of western civilisation as we know it would probably collapse! People would lose their jobs and income, leading to starvation, rioting and the like. It would be mayhem! It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
As one human out of billions, there are things that I can do. It is true that one person alone will have no impact overall, and that’s why it is important for the vast majority of us to take action and change our ways. On a grander scale the whole process will take time. Many people will think ‘What can I do?’ or ‘Nothing I do will have any effect, so what’s the point?’ or that simply you have no power over the decision-makers who are continuing to tear away at the planet and its resources. This is not true, and sometime soon I will look at that topic in particular.
To start off, though, I want to look at why I have got to this stage. What made me start thinking the way that I have, and how long have I felt this way? By sharing with you my experience, I hope that others will be able to understand better and even choose to make some changes themselves. Some of you may be doing these things already, and that’s great! But maybe in that case it would be good to go a little further. I’ll finish by listing some of the actions that I have taken and what I intend to do in the near future.
I cannot identify the exact moment that I started thinking about this, but I can pinpoint the time that I decided to do something about it. Sir David Attenborough is quite possibly the most famous conservationist/naturalist on the planet, and has undeniably had such a large impact on myself and those who feel passionate about making changes to help conserve wildlife, the planet and the human race. I am positive his name will crop up a lot in my posts to come! I have watched countless of his nature documentaries over the years and his message has always been clear, but I noticed that it has become noticeably more desperate. In his Netflix documentary film Our Planet that was released last year, his message is possibly the clearest that I have ever heard it. While he may not have used these exact words, it essentially boils down to do or die. Watching this with my girlfriend and making her more aware of some of the concerns that I have, she ended up sharing my thoughts and agreed to make changes together. I cannot recommend Our Planet enough to get a snapshot of what the current state is like and what can be done to change things.
In this video taken from Our Planet, he outlines some of the causes of how we got to this stage and some of the ways in which we can help turn the course of our trajectory for the better. These include: stop waste, use cleaner energy, provide better education, reduce population growth and eat better.
This is a very simple list, but the implications of these are enormous, as are the actions that are required to achieve these. Many of these topics are controversial, and not even in relation to global warming. How often have you seen emotions flare online over veganism between an animal-lover and a meat-eater? How much money is invested in the extraction of fossil fuels that are polluting the planet? Population control? Is this China or something? These are things that I am reading more on to education myself and share with others.
There have been small changes that I was able to easily adjust to that I made in the past, such as:
- Fewer baths and shorter showers.
- Not using hot water as much as possible
- Turning off lights and electronic appliances
- Walking to wherever I can
Things like those are probably more common sense now than they were say 10 or 15 years ago, and I am sure that most people do these. They’re not difficult and the benefits of these are understood and easily explained. The next list is of things that I have either started very recently or intend to do in the future and that I will write about at a later stage. I won’t go into any detail in this post.
- Reduce meat consumption
- Stop buying drinks in plastic bottles (or any other plastic container at that)
- Reuse and repair
- Stop buying new clothes (this is one that I’ve unconsciously done for the past year or so, I think)
- Shower less (I haven’t mentioned this one to the lady yet. She might not be pleased!)
- Launder clothes less frequently (just pulled this one out as I was writing. Haven’t put much thought into it, but it might be worth looking into at the very least)
- Become a member of WWF and donate
The list could go on, but I feel that the items in this list are comparatively easier than some of the other changes that could be made and ones that I’ll likely address later. The most difficult one to me will likely be reducing my consumption of meat. I bloody love meat.
And that’s your lot. I’m excited to really start looking at something that I have had an interest in for such a long time, but never thought to dedicate much time to. I can only thank my circumstances right now that have given me more time to sit down, think and consider what is truly important to me.
I do hope that people will read this with genuine interest and not think of me as some tree-hugging nutcase – I’m really not! Well, maybe I am.