I suppose an appropriate way of starting this would be to say - climate change scares me. I have a constant low-level stress in my mind, some might call this eco-anxiety, about just how bad things are. Depending on the day, I can flit between feelings of helplessness and almost despair to optimism and empowerment. Even still, so much about climate change feels out of my control. How can I, a regular individual working a 9-5, make any difference?
It’s overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel powerless. But one thing I feel I can do is try to educate myself, to equip myself with knowledge and learn as much as I can. Then to communicate the climate crisis to everyone in a way that helps create both understanding and the need for urgent action.
I made a conscious decision to start reading more climate-focussed books and ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ by David Wallace-Wells was one of the first I picked up - I’ve since re-read it several times.
The Uninhabitable Earth provides a comprehensive review of the worst climate change could bring, subject to the level of warming we reach. What will happen if we limit warming to two degrees, to three, to four, five or even more? While it considers warming and impacts at all scenarios (they are terrifying), the book mainly focuses on warming within two to four degrees, which is considered to be most likely based on our current emission trajectory.
Before I’d finished the first chapter, ‘Cascades’, I was genuinely concerned, my mind boggling at such a confronting summary of fact and science.
To quote Wallace-Wells’ opening, “it is worse, much worse, than you think”. We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere faster than at any point in human history, and there’s more carbon in our atmosphere today than at any point in at least 800,000 years.
What’s unusual about an author who has provided such a comprehensive assessment of climate change is that, by his own admission, Wallace-Wells doesn’t consider himself an environmentalist. He has approached environmentalism as a journalist and a storyteller, almost a harbinger of what could be to come. Nothing is sugarcoated, and at times I was left feeling stunned and confronted.
It made me realise that although climate change is now already happening, if we don’t do anything it will get much, much worse. Doing nothing is not an option.
But it also gave me hope. Hope that solutions do exist, and we have time to avoid the worst of climate change simply by taking action. I’d urge everyone to read this book.
Ultimately I firmly believe doing something is always better than doing nothing. I believe taking action fosters an alignment of my values with the choices I make. It makes me feel authentic, and as an environmentalist and someone in love with our world, our nature, and our outdoors; I feel a responsibility to speak up for our climate.
If you take anything away from this blog, it’s to realise that we are in a climate crisis, our wild spaces are vanishing, and our global environment is now changing as a result of challenges unprecedented in human history. Climate change is not some future state, this is happening right now. But we still have time to avoid the worst of it. We can still take action, we have the answers.
We just need to act. What will you do?