This probably isn’t original, but it seems to me that many environmental and climate change organisations are missing a trick.
A lot of people are getting turned off these important issues, because the messages are just so depressing: everything needs ‘saving’, everything is ‘at risk’ , thanks to the media, the perception is that we are on the edge of an environmental disaster every other day.
So the messages about the environment, and the climate, have been couched in largely negative terms; destruction, loss, decline, suffering. We have become used to the idea that we are facing significant changes to our world, all of these are bad, and, like the post used as an exemplar by Inel, there isn’t much we can do about it: in other words, we’re all going to Hell, so why not party while we can?
Such a negative narrative makes use of psychological keys which were useful in the post-war and cold war periods. It encourages the neurotic in us and the idea that we are ‘facing an enemy’ who must be ‘overcome’, that the choices are between destruction and preservation; that change brought about by forces outside our control and not chosen by us are thus enemies of our freedom, our way of life, our sense of who we are.
So what’s the trick?
Let’s agree that we are in living in a world of rapid changes. We can also agree that many of the changes which have happened and which are expected to happen are – undesired. Yes, there is risk, but, as with all situations where change is coming, it is also a fantastic opportunity.
We have a chance to change the world. We have a chance to contribute to the new directions our world might take in the coming decades. We are the architects of tomorrow.
As we stand on a hilltop looking out over the horizon of the future we are facing, we are a new generation of pioneers, of explorers, settlers. The future is the new frontier, the place(time) where a fresh start and a chance to escape the bonds of the past, of servitude and oppression, reaches out to embrace us. And we have the benefit of knowing what successes and failures our forebears had, what good choices they made, and what mistakes we should avoid.
Of course there will be problems; rivers to cross, mountains to climb, and no fixed place which is ‘home’ for a time, until the journey brings us to a place we want to be. We will feel insecure, even threatened, at times. We will, occasionally, face hard work and will need to toil to make progress along the rocky trail before us. But we believe it is worth the effort; we believe that what is yet to come will be better than what was left behind.
Changing our lives to adapt to the demands of the changing climate, disposing of the social strictures of the past and adopting new rules for living together which we believe are fairer, better, than the old ones, breaking away from what was not good enough is not a risk, it is a great adventure.
We don’t have to accept that we are going to Hell; that is where our current lives are taking us, but we don’t have to accept it; we can be the agents of a positive change. And I’m not going to say that we are heading for ‘the promised Land’; this is too much, but we could, we can start, to make steps to get to a better place.