What can one person possibly do?

Last night, a smart friend of mine wanted to talk to me about my last blog, “Time for Swarming”.

Her headlines:  Aren’t you exaggerating! This is scary. Shouldn’t the government be doing something? How can we change such a complex system as an individual.  I don’t know what to believe about climate change. And I don’t even know any movements I could join.

These are common and serious questions.  Here are some thoughts in response.

As far as climate change goes, 97 % of the scientists are in agreement that we are in deep trouble.  Science is always controversial.  But when you have so many in agreement, it doesn’t make sense to turn to the small minority for reassurance.  I recently heard Svein Tveitdal, former Division Director in the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) use this analogy: Your child is sick and your doctor says he needs to go to the hospital but you want another opinion.  The next doctor says the same.  But you continue to go to 9 different doctors who all say the same thing until you come to the 10th doctor who says – oh it isn’t that bad, come back in a couple of weeks.  Who would you listen to if it was about you own son’s health.

We all need to become knowledgeable about the situation.  We need to think critically and find solutions together instead of waiting for the politicians to do this.

And maybe we need to be afraid! To look at our fear and decide whether we want to pretend everything is OK or use our creative intellect to be a part of the Shift. The trick is to dare to be afraid without giving up hope.  We need Active Hope (as in the title of Joanna Macy’s new book).  Everyone thinking.  Everyone considering.  Everyone doing something!

We need to imagine a different world.  And then make it happen.  Don’t try to solve all the intertwined problems. That can make you give up. Instead try focusing on one issue, with a hard look and a commitment to change something in your own back yard.

Use these questions to help you or make up your own. Take any global problem (relationship to earth and its resources or any other aspect of social, cultural, political, economical life) and brainstorm alone or together with others how to do something about this at the local level?

1.  What do you think about all the plastic around vegetables etc. in the grocery store today?

2. What do you know about GMO’s (gene modified organism) effect on humans and animals or if it is used in any of the steps of food production in products that you eat?

3. How do people you know discuss climate issues? Do they base their discussions on research and critical thinking or newspaper articles?

4.  How much does your workplace consider sustainability in every aspect of the business, including the entire value-chain?

5.  How well is your house insulated and energy efficient in all aspects, including appliances?  How aware are you about energy usage and what reduces energy output (like always turning off computers, appliances etc.when not in use)?

These are all global problems. Choose one. Then ask the question: What could we do about this here where we live.

Think globally act locally – this is how to do it!  Start talking about this with each other.  Movements come of themselves when we really see the need to change.

This video will perhaps encourage you to also dare to speak out about climate change.

“Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.”


2 thoughts on “What can one person possibly do?”

  1. Mara
    Your blog is proceeding with such juicy and relevant topics to the Sustainable Community Developmetn course that I am co-teaching at Royal Roads U – that I have taken the liberty of giving them the link to your Blog!!
    Thanks so much for your delicious, rich and beautifully linked reflections.
    meshful blessings

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