The world is changing; get with it or get old! Harsh as this may sound the truth is that the world we live in is constantly evolving and we have the choice of either changing with it or becoming redundant, out of touch, irrelevant and past it, trapped in time, serving neither ourselves nor the greater good.
Content with the world as we know it our attitudes can solidify and we may develop the habit of relying on trusted soundbites and oft-defended standpoints to participate in conversations and navigate the social circles of our world, feeling relevant at least in a superficial way. All well and good, you might say, if it works why fix it? But the trouble with standing still is that the world doesn’t, and with each degree of its’ revolution change takes place. Those who are aware and alert pay attention because all change requires a response in some form or another if we are to thrive in this world and not yesterday’s.
Change may go unnoticed for a time with so many other things to preoccupy our lives but when it gets to the point that it confronts us with full force there is no room for claiming plausible deniability. And the danger of becoming comfortable to the point of complacency is that it weakens our propensity to implement the kind of action demanded by circumstances.
In the 1950s’ Rachel Carson, paying close attention to the damaging effects of pesticide use, started writing about the devastation human behaviour has on ecosystems. Her book Silent Spring painted a grim picture but few paid attention, the effects not yet felt at human level. Yet the cause was identified: industrialisation, mass production, intensive agriculture and a culture of consumerism. The effect: global warming.
Left unchecked, we are now at the point where extreme weather events are happening with increasing frequency, where subsistence farming in developing parts of the world is no longer feasible, where melting ice is destabilising infrastructure in the Arctic circle, all perpetuating displacement and creating an avalanche of climate refugees.
The response needed must be a global one for a global problem if we are to minimise the effects. Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) has been campaigning on climate justice and the need to act with urgency and immediacy. She reiterates the need to think globally and act locally. In her book on the issue she provides testimonies from climate activists who have been first to feel the devastating effects firsthand. Their lived experiences should be lesson enough for us all to learn from and to rethink how we live. In fact, the language we use to validate our excesses is also something that needs to be examined. We speak of ‘living well’ in reference to our over-consumption but to live well should not result in the annihilation of our home, the Earth!
The time for sitting up and noticing change is upon us. We need to cultivate climate responsibility, to relearn our place in the world and to recognise our dependency on the planet for our very survival. Old arguments won’t hold. There needs to be a cultural and collective letting go of yesterday’s world, with all its’ comfort and conveniences, to relearn the relationship between cause and effect and to welcome a world where less will mean more — of life!