Now I confess, I don’t actually work in an office! But one of my recent climate change conversations with hubby actually rubbed off and he took it to work. He was surprised at the outcome and I thought I’d share it here. Have you had a conversation about climate change recently?
The background to this was I had been reading the news and was bemoaning (again) how our London centric Government was making headline grabbing pledges for climate change but that a number of organisations and various Commissions were criticising political leaders for the lack of urgency or action to achieve the pledges. No action and negative vibes.
The stories gave the wrong impression. Instead of empowering people to embrace change it implied only government action was needed.
Experienced journalists the world over have been covering climate change issues, the science and the activism for over 30 years but my gripe was that these articles often don’t move us forward they just seem to love someone to blame – the simplest form of journalism is to point out someone’s lack of effort or results and criticise or ridicule them for it. (Look at the grief given to the England Football team). Almost no thought required. Pick a topic and moan away (much like this paragraph!). The effect of reporting like this is that the articles collectively give the impression that action on climate change is the government’s responsibility (and no-one elses).
Now, I’m not saying the government can’t or shouldn’t be responsible here. I agree there is plenty they could do particularly towards green energy, integrated transport systems and sustainable towns and cities. These big things require joined up thinking, coordination, guidance and funding, and would be a lot easier if government joined up the dots – a national once – rather than leaving individual councils or communities to make their own arrangements on their own learning curves.
But the danger of blaming someone else when something is going wrong is that no-one takes responsibility for the actions that need to happen. It’s like a telegraph that gives us all permission to rest on our laurels knowing that the spotlight isn’t on us. The ‘they aren’t doing anything so I don’t have to’ or even ‘they haven’t told me what to do’ mentality is hurting the climate; hurting the Earth, us and everything else living here.
‘The next ten years……………’
We are all encouraged to take action on climate change. We are told by scientists and activitsts we all have a role to play. “The next ten years………………..” (9 years now) is repeatedly quoted as being critical to reducing to our carbon emissions and changing to low carbon ways of living. But what should we actually be changing? What will make the most impact on global emissions the quickest?
A global initiative Count Us In: Protect what you love has set out 16 of the most important steps that we can all take to reduce our emissions and slow climate change. Two are relevant here ‘Speak up at work’ and ‘Talk to friends’. Raising awareness of climate change and actions we can all take is critical to encouraging everyone to make their own changes as individuals and businesses.
So if talking about climate change could make a big difference raising awareness and getting everyone taking action ………….Could you start a conversation about climate change with a friend? Or a work colleague?
The straw poll at the office
Hubby thought I was being a bit over dramatic. He felt in general that lots of people are aware / already doing their bit for climate change and realise the government isn’t going to manage all the changes by itself. So he did a little straw poll in the office to see what his team thought………….
His conversation with colleagues meandered through waste and recycling, green energy suppliers and travel and his colleagues had views on these things but the conversation nearly always tilted towards the perspective that business and councils should be sorting them out. They hadn’t really considered how they lived at home had any effect on climate change. 8/10 thought it was the Goverment’s job to halt climate change and that the government would make all the alternatives available to them as individuals.
He was shocked!
Obviously not a scientific poll and a very small sample of people. But even so, he had expected them to be already making their own changes and engaged with the issues; he was surprised at the low level of awareness.
Talking the talk!
So it is time to start our own climate change conversations. If you are feeling a little nervous of how to talk about such a big topic or worried you don’t know enough have a look at this post on Sustainable St Albans website – they have some great advice for conversation starters and how to not feel awkward if you don’t feel you know much about climate change actions yourself.
Find the full list of 16 climate change actions on the Count Us In page.
By registering on the Count Us In site for one or more of the steps before 17 July you will be helping them to break a Guinness World Record!
Go on, which step will you take next?
Good Luck x