watervole: (Default)
Judith Proctor ([personal profile] watervole) wrote2017-01-02 12:14 pm

What we act upon

News has many impacts, but very few things cause us to take action, and when we do act it is usually in very easy ways.

We're all familiar with the responses that can be heaped upon people in arenas like Facebook when a racist or homophobic remark can result in a comment going viral and hundreds or thousands of people sending hate-filled responses to the original poster.

It's easy.  It allows the commenter to feel they've done something, but it costs them nothing beyond a few seconds of typing.

(I often wonder if this is why some right-wing religious groups target gay men.  It requires no sacrifice on their part, but makes them feel they are exerting effort to fulfill god's wishes.  Other Biblical requirements are much harder to meet.  Not killing, not stealing, giving lots of money to the poor, get progressively harder.)

It's like that with environmental issues.  The Daily Mail can heap praise upon itself for the success of a campaign to put a charge on one-use carrier bags.  It's easy.  The worst thing it can do to us is to make us pay 5p for a carrier bag, or to bring our own bag to the shop.  It's an easy feel good factor to own a re-usable shopping bag.  

Most people will move up to sorting and putting out their recyclable rubbish. It's easy, and there's an awareness that it helps keep council tax down (because of landfill charges).

After that, sadly, we're mostly driven by the desire to look good.  It's no coincidence that most people installed double glazing long before they added decent loft insulation (even though loft insulation is far, far, more cost-effective).  Loft insulation is invisible and double glazing makes our houses look good.  We tell ourselves we're installing it for environmental reasons, but if it didn't come with good looking PVC frames, it wouldn't have caught on nearly as well.

Climate change is something we want the government to act upon.  They should definitely do something.  Though we're not always too sure about what.  We want green electricity, and it sounds great, but we also don't want anything that will lower our standard of living.

and thereby lies the crunch.  We ignore (not even deliberately, but by glossing over or turning the page) things that are stressful or that demand big changes from us.

If everyone on the planet lived as we do in the UK, we would need three planets to support everyone.  In other words, we're using resources three times faster than is sustainable.

And here's the even harder part.  Although we have known this for decades, and awareness of environmental issues is rising, our environmental footprint over that period has risen rather than fallen.

In short, we're destroying the natural environment (and the life support system for our children and grandchildren) because we're unwilling to sacrifice lifestyle elements that are often luxuries rather than essentials.

It's a New Year.  

What are you prepared to give up that will actually make a difference?