Just over 7 years ago I wrote 2 articles on preparing your home and community for a crisis. The thought process behind the articles was pretty grim and not one for social conversation at that time yet it was where my mind had been for the previous 5 years. I had been considering how climate change would impact our lives. Not something you bring up at coffee break, back then anyway.
I was invited to speak in Dublin with a group that had evolved considering climate change. It was so refreshing to walk into a room of people who did not ignore, dismiss or argue the gravity of our situation. We debated the finer points, like how much longer do you think we have left, but in the main we all agreed that humanity is it’s own worst enemy and capitalism has everyone so enslaved there is no return. I went back every month after that to the safe place where I could be authentic in my bleak outlook. Every month would be more proof that humanity hadn’t grasped the gravity of the situation and was walking blindfold towards the edge of a cliff.
We were all engaged in climate awareness at some level so it wasn’t as if we were all sitting back watching the climate crisis unfold. If anything it provided us an opportunity to share our frustration of waking the rest of Ireland up. We were there as individuals who came from a variety of backgrounds such as academia, journalism, business, medical, government, NGOs, politics and community.
I was living a lie – bringing up 5 children, preparing them for life knowing that their lives would be completely different to the expectations of society’s trajectory based on infinite growth. I was meeting a group of guys every month to talk doom which allowed me function normally for the rest of the time. Funnily enough women didn’t last long when they joined – perhaps the reality was too difficult to accept. Maybe discussing it made it too real. Too depressing.
At some point we decided to establish a group to take on the climate denial and lack of action across government, the media and general public. We knew we would have to be the dissenting voice as the politicians were so caught up in populism and industries caught up in self preservation. We accepted that if we lost our jobs so be it. Anyone who could not afford to let that happen stepped back. We accepted that if we lost friends so be it. Is someone who doesn’t want to hear the truth really a friend? The collapse of civilisation as we knew it was too big an issue to not give our all. We just had to find an umbrella organisation in which to do our work. An Taisce answered that call. We soon became know as An Taisce Climate Committee or ATCC.
That was 5 years ago. To say I am proud of what we have achieved in that time would be an understatement. Some of our founding members have gone on to academia to bolster the climate argument. New members joined, well known in the climate field. In recent years we have had interns who have come back as members. Much to my delight we have young people including young women. It has become obvious that climate breakdown is very much on the minds of the up and coming generations.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get watching RTE weather discuss climate change during your Christmas break in Dublin with celebratory texting and tweeting knowing you had played a part in that shift. Knowing you had made a difference. To watch a Primetime host come out and state that they know climate change is happening and that their debate is going to be about what we need to do. To take a stand when the media continuously gives a platform to inaction and denial. To engage in policy and decision making knowing that you are coming from a place of authenticity and sheer desperation to get the country to take climate change as the serious issue that it is. To acknowledge that it requires a response like that of a world war.
We are now faced with a diminishing 12 year window to prevent the worst, irreversible consequences of climate change. It is a massive challenge. I just hope people realise that those of us who have been in this arena are sincere in our proposals for what we need to do. We have been in this space and had time to think it through for many years. We have seen politicians and industry desperately believing industry led “solutions” as they hang on to the hope that the changes would be easy. We appreciate the enormity of the task. We need to act and we need to act fast, collaboratively. We need to be brave and bold enough to act adequately. We need more like ATCC.
The articles were for FEASTA the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability and can be found linked above or on their website.