First things first: We are not going to save the planet through yet another blog! No single individual – not even a super-heroine – can save the planet on her own. The primary goal of this blog is not to save the planet, but to provide support for those who, for some reason, feel that they should try contributing to this mega-endeavour. Who are those people?
A blog for whom?
This blog is for people who have – through their work, or through their studies, or just by chance – had the occasion to face the most recent science-backed climate and environmental insights. People who have critically reflected on those insights and come to the conclusion humanity finds itself in the dangerously absurd situation of extinguishing its own basis of existence – and that of many other species at the same time. People who have tried to communicate these facts and worries to their friends and relatives and received mixed reactions that range from ‘It’s nice of you to care about the climate’ to ‘Don’t exaggerate!’ to ‘Let’s talk about something else, you’re making me depressed!’. People who have questioned themselves over and over again (‘Am I getting something wrong?’, ‘Should I just go with the flow?’) but come to the conclusion that they cannot ignore what they know, and therefore that they cannot go on as usual. People who have decided that recycling, buying bio-products, donating to NGOs, signing petitions or writing another critical research paper is too little too late to face this crisis. People who feel that the motto ‘I’m doing something – if only everyone lived as conscious as I do…’ just doesn’t do the trick of soothing their minds any longer. People who want to do more but don’t know where to start, when to find the time, or how to deal with the strange reactions they receive from partners, friends, relatives, colleagues, and social media contacts. People who are motivated and inspired to do something, but also have moments of feeling overwhelmed, alienated from their social environments, or just sad.
An amateur is someone who engages in an activity aside from her profession. It’s someone who does not seek profit in this activity. It’s someone who, due to her lack in competence, has to try things out, fail, and try again. When it comes to saving the planet – all of us are amateurs. While some of us might work in associated professions – such as research, education, journalism or the environmental non-profit sector – none of us have ever saved the planet (and if you have, please let us know!). Save-the-planet-amateurs are bound to experiment with different approaches. The premise of this blog is that it is worth bringing together these trials and errors, to laugh about them with a pinch of gallows humor, and to learn. It’s a space where we share our experience, and where we ask for responses and advice. Our posts will cover topics such as finding reliable information on the current climate and ecological crisis, strategies of discussing about the topic, developing lines of argumentation, and staying sane in an age of absurdity. It covers our failures, and hopefully also a few successes.
This blog is based on some facts and assumptions that we’d like to communicate upfront.
1) We assume that humans are destroying their own basis of existence, as well as that of other species. Now already, humans, animals and other organisms are suffering, dying and – in the case of plants of animals – dying out due to global heating and different forms of human-induced environmental exploitation (such as deforestation, over-fishing, etc). It should be underlined that some human groups and institutions – such as rich industrial nations, former colonial forces, polluting industries and their lobbies, etc. – are more responsible for this process of ecosystem destruction than others. Right now, ecosystem destruction has arrived at a point that might trigger irreversible dynamics in the Earth system – dynamics that, in the absence of quick, substantive and collective change in the present, might make this planet uninhabitable for the majority of humanity (probably sometime in the next 80 years). Is this alarmism? Here is some scientific backing for our premise.
2) We assume that changes in individual lifestyle and consumption alone won’t be enough to tackle this crisis; and we assume that technological innovation is unlikely to provide a last-minute cure against environmental degradation in its multiple forms. Of course, we welcome both green lifestyles and technologies. Yet, as George Monbiot has put it – “What counts, in seeking to prevent runaway global heating, is not the good things we start to do, but the bad things we cease to do.” What we need are politically resolved, legally binding rules that either prohibit or strongly dis-incentivize environmentally harmful behavior. By ‘behavior’ we mean both the behavior of individuals and that of institutions, such as companies. The challenge, at this stage, is to bring about those rules, while at the same time ensuring social justice and collective wellbeing.
3) We don’t blame individuals for the climate and ecological crisis we find ourselves in. We are all part of a system that needs an urgent makeover. Finger-pointing won’t drive this makeover, collective action might!
This blog talks to all those people that, like us, want to finally do something against ecosystem breakdown but are struggling to approach this massive task.