As an environmentalist, sometimes I get sick of environmentalists.
It’s not that what they have to say isn’t important; it is. But the steady flow of bad news is a drag. It can leave you feeling depressed and powerless. Whether or not we’re conscious of it, in this age of ecological decline, we’re all suffering.
Consider the most obvious trend in Hollywood: end of the world movies. I started paying attention to film trends back in my university days when a professor pointed out the cultural significance of all the invader movies of the mid-20th Century: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Night of the Living Dead, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and so on. These genre films were all wrestling with the idea of invasion, or attack from within, acting as a giant filter for the North American psyche grappling with the imminent threat of nuclear obliteration during the Cold War.
A very quick survey of the current list of film titles being pumped out of Hollywood might lead you to believe something else is bumping around in the attic of our collective unconscious with great frequency these days: This is the End, After Earth, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Day After Tomorrow, Melancholia, and so on.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its latest report and the news is bad, which isn’t going to help. In a nutshell: greenhouse gas emissions are up up up despite all the talk about curbing them.
“There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual,” says one of the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III in a press release.
To limit a global climate increase to two Degrees C, we need to lower greenhouse gas by 40 to 70 per cent by mid century, says the IPCC. By the end of the century, we’ve got to stop the smoke altogether (For more than glib media summaries, go to http://www.ipcc.ch/).
Here’s the thing: Try as we might, my family and I can’t figure out how to hold down four jobs without owning two cars. And our house is heated with natural gas. And we use a gas lawn mower. And so on.
Still, the panel spends a fair bit of time offering solutions, many involving mitigation: energy conservation, the decoupling of gas emissions from economic growth, and the one that caught my attention: land use.
So I have this little conversation with myself:
Choice One: Wring your hands uselessly until they are chapped, then check out American Idol on TV (big screen) effectively ignoring the environment until it goes away.
Choice Two: Do something. Keep moving. Action is cathartic.
I go with Choice Two. And while I’d like to claim it’s because I’m some righteous dude, it’s mostly to ease my own discomfort.
If you’re suffering, help The Couchiching Conservancy a little and see how it feels. We protect natural land, plain and simple. It mitigates climate change, not to mention that you can go on some pretty cool hikes through some of the nicest natural real estate in the region. Become a member and support us financially. It’s one of the few therapies you can find that comes with a tax receipt.
Go on, sequester a little carbon for kicks.
Written by Mark Bisset.