Addressing Environmental Degradation - psychology and urgency

As politically engaged people I’m sure we can agree that change is both necessary and frustratingly slow. As a retired psychotherapist I believe that political and social change is slow because to be meaningful it can’t be a mere tinkering with systems but must be underpinned by the evolution of people’s consciousness and the winning over of hearts and minds. Tempting as it often appears and has appeared through history to many, the oppressive controlling of fellow humans has never proved to be a long-functioning proposition.

However, uniquely in the human story we now face something so dangerous that it’s forcing all thoughtful people to re-evaluate the existing political means and methods. And no, I’m not talking about Brexit, sad as that makes me, but about climate change or more properly and broadly environmental degradation. This of course encompasses everything from the global effects of climate change to the popular cause of plastic sea-pollution to more local issues such as fracking and air quality around schools, and all of the other ills we’ve conjured up in our glee with apparent ‘progress’.

So the dilemma is that true progressive change is slow but environmental degradation is now upon us and will very soon – arguably now – necessitate some actions that are going to appear to be and felt to be draconian and backwards by much of the world’s populace.

For instance; a dramatic reduction in flying. I’ve been, personally, alternately amused and deeply frustrated by the obvious displacement activity of banning plastic straws when some of the same people who advocate this action so enthusiastically will justify to themselves another leisure flight, because after all they’ve been so busy and stressed working to protect the oceans that they now deserve that break, don’t they?

I think we urgently need to redefine what we accept as quality of life in terms that, rather than valuing the material and the exciting things and experiences that our egos crave that prove to be damaging to the environment, we learn anew to value the small and local and harmless. Don’t go on a safari to look at the dying elephants, check out the wildlife in your own garden.

And avoid the stress of the airport while you’re at it!

Climate Change, Environment, Urgent, Flying

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