How do you feel about climate change?

A long while ago (18 September 2016) I wrote a contribution to the ‘Is this how you feel?‘ project which gives a space for scientists to say how they feel about climate change. From their website:

“Climate change is a complex and intimidating threat. You can’t see it when you look out your bedroom window. Its impacts are often not immediately noticeable, nor are the benefits of acting against it.
Luckily there are a large group of passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to studying climate change. These people write complex research papers, unpacking every aspect of climate change, analysing it thoroughly and clinically.  They understand the numbers, the facts and the figures. They know what is causing it, what the impacts will be and how we can minimise these impacts.

I’m not a famous scientist so my contribution is not featured on the website. Its also much more pessimistic than most of the featured contributions, as I am worried those of us in wealthy and safer places will behave inhumanely to those bearing the brunt of the climate change impacts, and instead of helping, will desperately self-preserve our advantages. I think that will have deep psychological consequences. Anyway, as even my ‘best’ handwriting is illegible, so I transcribed my contribution here:

How do I feel about climate change?

I feel sad, ashamed, fearful, and often frustrated and helpless.

I see current climate change as part of a wider human caused environmental depreciation and it saddens me how we behave towards the natural environment. I’m ashamed about what we are knowingly doing to our planet. Especially when, for me, and I imagine many others, being in the natural environment is one of the greatest sources of solace and joy to be had.

I live in a small home, use green energy, turn off the lights, share my car and prefer my bike over it, eat meat only rarely, avoid packaging if I can, and so on. But my whole lifestyle is still a kind of aberration of the natural systems we evolved in. Am I doing enough? Enough to legitimately ask others to do something too? Probably not.

I’m afraid we will wait too long to make the wholesale changes in attitudes and governance needed to improve our situation. As a result, I fear for the future of people in countries too poor to bring effective adaptation strategies to bear. I also fear that those of us in wealthier countries might not respond with the requisite humanity to help – what would that mean for us?

Its frustrating that we seem to be in possession of all the understanding ad solutions to change our destructive ways and deal with the consequences of them, but there is a collective lack of will to do it. I feel helpless becasue I feel poorly equipped to stir people or our leaders to force change.

But I try, will continue to try, and I hope you will too.

My progress since September 2016 has unfortunately not always been forward:

  • I no longer live in a tiny studio apartment with one other person, but a fairly large flat with one other person
  • I replaced my van with a more fuel efficient car, which I still share
  • I am more stringent with by avoidance of packaging and single use items – this is now much reduced
  • I was and continue to be a pretty minimal consumer – my electronics are all ancient, as are my clothes
  • I still have to look up how to spell aberration
  • I’ve decided I’m definitely not doing enough
  • Unfortunately I’m not sure how to turn that decision into action
  • I successfully minimised my travel for 2 years, but my plans for 2019 look unforgivable even with carbon offsetting
  • Report card: Must try harder

You can add your feelings on climate change by doing this:

1. Handwrite your feelings on climate change
2. Take a photo of it on your phone
3. Tweet your photo to @ITHYF_Letters

About lindsey

Environmental scientist. I am glaciologist specialising in glacier-climate interactions to better understand the climate system. The point of this is to understand how glaciated envionments might change in the future - how the glaciers will respond and what the impact on associated water resources and hazard potential will be.
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