Today is Earth Day and the 2022 theme is ‘Invest in our Planet’. We are now two years in to the ‘Decade of Action’ and a sustainable future for all of us and the planet we live on seems a long way off. There is an urgent need to reach net zero and to keep global temperature below 1.5°C – the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability which sets out in stark terms the impact that climate change is going to have on humans and our planet. Therefore:
“We need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet”
The Earth Day website has a range of suggestions for ‘acting green’ and divides them into three areas, Civic action, Community action and Individual action, which are useful categories of things to do. I am always trying to do the right thing and think green in both my personal and professional life (click here for more information on our business values) but sometimes the scale of the problem seems utterly overwhelming and the actions I am taking feel futile in the face of massive global change and a huge range of attitudes.
I’ve recently read Do Earth Healing strategies for humankind by Tamsin Omond and although I found some of it uncomfortable and challenging to read, some sections really resonated with me. Tamsin shares her story of a decade of environmental activism in her 20s which (perhaps unsurprisingly) left her burnt out and disillusioned in her 30s. This book is about how to focus and direct our energies into re-invigorating our relationship with the planet and learning how to rest, heal and regenerate the earth (and in some cases ourselves)
“It’s a big moment to be alive because right now, more than ever before, everything we do really counts”
The book is divided into three sections, Self, Community and Earth. Self talks about where we are and how we got into such a mess, but interestingly it also talks about the limits of personal actions. It is something that I have felt for a very long time that the focus of climate action is on actions individuals choose to make rather than focussing on systemic matters such as our global reliance on fossil fuels and conspicuous consumption being a marker of success. Individual actions such as turning down the heating, eating less / no meat, not flying, recycling, going zero waste etc etc are all valid and important things to do but without governments and businesses making huge changes to legislation, finance and energy generation, individual actions just aren’t going to be enough.
The Community section discusses community resilience and why this is so important as well as ideas on how to create a community wherever you are. Having recently attended the Do Breakthrough course (brilliantly organised and run by Do Lectures ) I found the chapter on community meetings really resonated with me, with words about showing up, being kind and collaborative, radiating energy, checking in and creating an intimate space where everyone is welcome.
If we try to tackle the climate and ecological emergency alone and all at once, we’re likely to get burnt out. As individuals we can’t change the whole word, but we can come together to create neighbourhoods where we make it easier for people to live in earth-conscious ways.
The final section of the book, simply called Earth, is all about reconnecting ourselves to our planet through gratitude, writing, being still and going outside.
“Walk. Listen to birdsong. Lie down on warm grass and watch the clouds drift by. Pick up a leaf and go and find the tree that it fell from. Wrap your arms around that tree and feel it holding you. Stand still.”