Blog: Lighting candles in the gloom

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The stories from around the world concerning the environment are challenging. Images of tourists fleeing the fires in Greece are now followed by the grim stories of the residents in Hawaii who died because they were overwhelmed by the fires in their home town of Lahaina. The death toll continues to rise. In Italy, extreme weather events are occurring with more frequency, notes climatologist Luca Mercalli. Massive hailstones in storms are now breaking records, one on 19th July was 16cm-wide. Such enormous hailstones wreak havoc on roofs and cars and residents unlucky enough to be outside. And they are constantly repeated around the World.

How to respond to such news? It is very easy to feel overwhelmed, and that nothing we can do as individuals can make a difference. The news also shows that it is hard to persuade people to take action or even to vote for policies which tackle carbon burning and public health – for example, the considerable opposition to the ultra-low emission zone expansion in London.

But we have the solutions and know what needs to be done. We also know from the response to Covid pandemic in 2020 and the Banking crisis in 2008 that governments are able to take action quickly if they wish.

The solution must be both learning and action together. As individuals, we can take actions, small or large, and keep on taking them. Individually and  collectively, we can learn together, through reading, discussion and study. We can use libraries and bookshops and share resources in person or online.  In Journey to Hopeful Futures I outline many ideas for participative learning methods which are also fun! From such learning, we can pressurise government to take action – for example to get government to support poorer individuals and countries as called for by The Guardian’s Larry Elliott – and help secure the transition to green futures.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

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