It will not be enough to change policies, or get new technology in place. We cannot, as a species, continue as we are. We cannot keeping flying in the way that we do. We cannot keep driving in the way that we do – electric cars are not a magic solution, they require too many resources and we have to scale back. Renewable energy might be good, but energy and resources still go into producing it. We have to use less energy.
I’m tired of the ways in which people let themselves off the hook. There’s the ‘you aren’t perfect so why should I bother’ model in which someone identifies that a protestor used a car, or does not hand spin wool for their own clothes and decides this invalidates the whole message and that they don’t have to bother making any changes at all. Not good enough! Most of us aren’t perfect. The failure of activists to manage to live carbon neutral does not excuse anyone else from trying.
I’m tired of the way that the people who have the most justify continuing to take so much more than is fair or sustainable. The feelings of entitlement that underpin the flying, the long car journeys, the over-consumption. I’m honestly tired of watching people I know and like do this and not having the energy to say ‘really?’ when I know I probably should. The Pagans who fly frequently bother me a great deal.
What cheers me, is the people who are fair and realistic. A fine case in point was listening to a talk from Molly Scott Cato recently. She’s an MEP who does not fly. She has no qualms about flagging up where people are priced out of participation in Green movements, and I’m deeply grateful for that. I’ve got very tired of hearing people being blamed for having very few choices open to them, while those who have most might buy their organic veg from the farmer’s market, yes, but still drive cars and are flying places. Not being able to be green because of financial restrictions is very, very different from choosing activities that aren’t sustainable because you can afford them and feel entitled to them.
And yes, honestly, I wish Extinction Rebellion was doing better on this. It’s high profile right now and an opportunity to show radical action. It’s a chance to live your values, and express them in your actions in any way you can think of. We need examples, and we need creativity, and we need people to be willing to make radical changes in their own lives. We aren’t going to solve the impact that transport has unless a lot of people are willing to make different transport choices. The same goes for energy use, throwaway consumerism, food waste, the fashion industry…
If you can afford to make changes in your life, you have a duty to the Earth to make changes towards more sustainable ways of living. I’ve been doing this for a long time, I have a small carbon footprint and I’m still working on shrinking it. I get very tired of people telling me that what I do is too difficult for them. Unless you are more disabled than me, in more pain than me, in more poverty than me… it’s not too difficult. It’s just more difficult than you’re willing to take on and that’s not actually the same thing.
Do I sound cross? It may be because I am. It may be because every time I have to walk past the lines of poison-exuding cars, most with only one occupant, a kind of rage fills me. An absolute rage at the complacency of people, the lack of effort and imagination, and the lack of feeling responsible. Because if you can afford to put a car on the road in the UK, you can afford to do differently at least some of the time. If you want to hang on to aspects of life that put out carbon, please be a bit creative and at least find some ways to reduce the impact.