Flying in the face of climate catastrophe. The power of community
Humanity is choosing a path to self-annihilation right now. It’s hard to know how to act in the face of this. Ice caps are melting, forests are burning, the sea is choking, species – and entire ecosystems - are disappearing.
In the last 18 years, 17 have been the hottest on record. The world is collapsing in front of our eyes. Trump doesn’t believe it; Bolsonaro declares the Amazon open for business, and we’re too distracted by the bedlam of Brexit and what Meghan’s written on a banana to care. The IPCC gave us a conservative estimate of 12 years to avert CATASTROPHIC climate change, and three weeks later, the UK government produced an Autumn Budget that literally couldn’t have cared less about climate change.
WHY NOT? WHY THE HELL NOT? We will suffer extreme hardship as a result of this inaction. Many, many people already are. The future we’re choosing to leave our children isn’t ‘just a bit hotter’, it’s utterly bleak.
So why aren’t we all angry? Some people are, granted, but not nearly enough of us. Do we hope it will go away? Do we hope someone else will fix it? Or do we think that there’s literally no point in caring, because there is NOTHING we can do about it? Are we so devoid of agency now that we’ll just sit back and watch the world burn?
We need to change the world, and we need to change it quickly. Our behaviours have already locked us in to at least 1.3 degrees warming; there’s nothing we can do about that, which means the world will change, but we can still have a decent outcome if we act, collectively, and fast.
But how do we do this? We’re told that individual action means nothing now, but what if, instead of acting as individuals, we act as communities? What if Watchet, Taunton, Bristol, London become collective agents of change? What if we came together in the places we live, with the people we understand and know and love, and made plans together about how we can adapt and look after each other in a changing world; how we can protect our wild spaces, reduce our exploitation of the planet, produce our own food, create our own energy, process our own spent resources? We could reclaim our agency and reconnect with our own humanity, and in the process, remember to value those things that make life worth living; art, love and empathy, over all the useless crap that’s drained our souls and destroyed our planet.
Community will be the first line of defense against climate change, so let’s start valuing it, and from this vantage point prepare ourselves for the uncertainties of the future. It is at the community level that we can begin to reconstruct the world to make it fairer and kinder. It is at the community level that individual people matter, that humans connect and we remember to care; it is at this level that we can make our own change, and do it in a way that is sensitive and meaningful to the rich tapestry of place.
The connotations of community are often soft and parochial. But they needn’t be. Community is powerful, and the love we protect it with is fierce. Community is the place from which we could still change the world.