A weird feeling of frustration, anger, sadness and helplessness washed over us as we witnessed the images of the amazon rainforest burning. This feeling of impotence, like a blunt object trying to break through a plastic zip lock bag, an attempt to intervene when a loved character is killed on a tv show or in a film. All the emotion but no ability to stop it.
So for a while it was easier to look away, pretend it wasn’t happening. An ostrich with it’s head firmly in the sand. If we don’t read about it or don’t see it then it can’t hurt us. We ignored the obscure posts that we came across on the internet, before it got into mainstream media ‘Why is nobody talking about this?! It’s been burning for almost a month!’ a reddit commented shouted into the dark echo chamber of the internet.
We couldn’t engage.
Nope, move on. Not today, don’t want to see it, don’t want to hear about it, got enough to worry about already, we thought. Maybe it’ll go away without us noticing. We can’t impact it after all.
Few days went by of this. Heard it on the radio - turn it over, people mentioning it at work expecting an impassioned response, nope, let it wash over, like white noise or waves on a beach, it’ll pass. Ignore it. Focus on the tasks at hand.
After all, what’s the point if there’s nothing we can do?
Well of course, we can do.
So, what can we do?
Yes, what can we do.
Stop eating Beef. Now. Just stop it. Stop other people eating it. Fuck that attitude of not upsetting people, when someone is eating beef, ask them if they know the damage their choice to eat that particular meat is doing to the planet. If they don’t, then educate them politely. If they don’t listen, then next time, upset them. Shame them for making decisions that put their own short term satisfaction over the long term future of everyone.
Make beef the new fur. A horrific relic of the past.
Stop panicking about plastic. Plastic is a wonderful material which if used correctly can be one of the most efficient materials on the planet. Yes single use plastic is bad. But don’t kid yourself that you’re making a difference or pat yourself on the back when you take your steak home in a reusable tote bag rather than a plastic bag and don’t let others either.
Allow yourself to be be Angry. Angry that the world is fucked because society values imaginary money over the very real environment. Be angry at those at the top have allowed that paradigm to persist. Channel that anger into things that make a difference.
Read about universal basic income. A potential solution to climate change that doesn’t leave people more impoverished when they are forced to shift away from toxic industries. Help stop the need for consumption to fuel an economy designed around ridiculous ideas based on growth over everything else.
When we do consume, support those who are pioneering responsible consumption. Use the power that capitalism does give, by voting with our money. Vote for those that deserve to prosper. Make them powerful and have a voice loud enough to shout down those that have screwed the planet for years.
Support political parties that promote these ideas, spread them. Let those ideas take root, then spread like wildfire and change society at the speed we need.