| Images by Jessica Delp on Unsplash; text by Lorna Divers |
If you are reading this you have almost certainly already signed up to the Shropshire Carbon Zero by 2030 Call to Action. “Sorted!!” Well, at least someone has a plan and knows what they are doing – phew.
At least that is what I told myself because it is what I want to believe (and I happen to believe, in this case, it is actually true). What had impressed me about the plan was that ZCS seemed to ‘get’ the fact that going for a top-down (government, LA, business – effectively someone else) or bottom-up (eek! You mean me?? Yeah but, erm …) simply isn’t going to ‘do it’. ZCS understand to achieve that goal we will all have a crucial role to play.
The clock is already ticking to 2030 – does 2020 count or not?? One year, or indeed, one decade is surely not going to make much difference, after all the ‘top-down’ players seem to be focussed on 2050 don’t they? And it was only very recently, to people of my age (!) that conversations about limiting temperature rises were framed in terms of the end of the next century.
So why, when it comes to action, is inertia such a significant feature? Well, as anyone who knows me might suspect, I have a theory about that. I have always been fascinated in, to coin a phrase, “The human condition.” As human beings, we like to imagine we are rational beings, with emotions – the reality is that we are emotional creatures who can think. Behaviours which appear to be rational is more typically driven by emotions of one sort or another. A parallel to climate change which may be useful to consider, is the normal experiences in our response to loss – the grieving process.
The losses that run-away climate change would wreak on the human family are too enormous to actually ‘take in’. The first phase of grieving is Denial – we know that a loved one is gone but that reality is too awful to accept in one go and we may even hear ourselves say, “No!” When we know, simultaneously, it can only be true. The next questions are usually around, ‘What happened?’ This apparently rational question belies a complicated set of feelings including; Anger, Blaming, Guilt and Bargaining. These ultimately futile reactions are also ways to defend ourselves or displace the ultimate experience of the process. The form of Depression involved in loss is known as reactive depression i.e. it is natural and normal, however problematic it may seem in the early stages. Eventually, in an uncomplicated bereavement, it will give way to Acceptance or coming to terms with what has happened. Acceptance allows us to remember the loved one as a real and complicated person, not saint or sinner, and allows us to move on and live happy, productive and fulfilled lives.
To get to this point we need to be patient and kind to ourselves and each other. The grieving process is never a straight line moving neatly from one stage to the next, rather we oscillate back and forth and may find ourselves in different phases at different times. The movement towards acceptance is slow and hesitant and human beings are not good with uncertainty!
Having a plan can only help, which is what ZCS is all about. Will it be enough? We can’t be sure, because it is very complicated!