Is this really happening?

(Dominic Boyer/Cymene Howe)

Another morning, trying to fight down the sheer panic and disbelief.

It’s like this has come out of nowhere.

Except it hasn’t. We’ve been warned for decades about global warming, loss of biodiversity and pollution. I read Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance in University. I heard Midnight Oil singing about it. Greenpeace was always in the news, and as a Student in the 90’s I felt like the world was onboard with doing something about it. That there was plenty of time.

I took it for granted that if I didn’t go out of my way to damage the planet, governments and the structures that control our societies would gradually manage the problem and keep it under control. For example, we managed to address the problem of the disappearing Ozone Layer in our atmosphere. With political will and follow through, we can fight these things.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, and things have started to look really bad. Those long hot summers, once an occasional fleeting joy, now linger and heat records are being successively broken. It seems like in the last decade reality is suddenly catching up with us. We are facing multiple global problems, but it’s all linked.

I keep alternating between hope, and mounting panic and disbelief. Are governments acting fast enough? What can I do? Why the fuck are we still carrying on and working for the beast that feeds it all? Can we possibly replace neoliberalism?

As a family, we have started to take measures. We’ve never owned a car. We’re changing our diet – almost no beef anymore, and significantly less chicken/pork during our weekly meals at home. Switched to renewable energy. We’re trying to use less plastic, and buy more local food.

But we still fly several times a year as a family, despite trying to keep summer holidays in the UK. We still probably buy too many things that don’t last. We use Uber now and then. And I still can’t quite give up meat totally.

I wake up some days and think “If this crisis is real, why have governments not made flying really expensive and reduced air travel, why are we all still working to upkeep GDP and uphold the capitalist system that encourages wasteful damaging behaviour to our planet? Why is everything being put on the back burner for short-term thinking and greed?”.

What’s the world going to be like for my kids in a decade or two? Should I just apologise now?

Yet there is hope. I want to believe that there’s plenty of good people, creative intelligent people that have or are coming up with the tools to save us from tipping over into runaway climate change. That if we all do our bit, and governments wake up and actually deal with this shit, we might have a chance.

This is really happening. But I’m gonna try to help.