The Sustainable Environmentalist

Fighting for the good guys in the climate change war is beset with misery. Let’s face it, we get the rougher deal: the end-of-the-world levels of angst and terror, guilt about our carbon footprints and frustration at the lack of progress… versus blissful ignorance, limitless growth and laughing cheerily to the bank; unfalteringly confident that everything is gonna be awesome forever. Why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?

It’s easy to see how a climate denier can keep getting out of bed in the morning (even if you’re less sure how they manage to sleep at night), but us poor climate change activists are a limited resource. And like everything from the soil to the sky: if you want it to keep doing what it does, you have to show it a little care.

So in the face of a bleak future, what helps me keep going? Well, to be fair I just came back after quitting for a year and I wasn’t contributing very much before that. But this time I wanna keep it up, and I think things like this will help me. Maybe they’ll help you too.

  1. Smugness. I am powered by smug. Smug helps me find the will to do anything. I’d give you some examples but I think the next few points will take care of that for me.
  2. Self-aggrandisement. You are so smart and insightful. You are a titan of the climate movement. You are as relevant and persuasive as Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben. You will save the world. Just as soon as anyone starts listening to you.
  3. Front line glamour. Twitter is great for this: feeling like you’re taking the fight to some of the biggest names in the dirty energy sphere. Go on, drop them a tweet, there’s always a chance they’ll see it. Hell, the other day I signed one off with “Are you listening, @realDonaldTrump?” – I like to think he was. It’s cathartic and satisfying and I’m far from being the only one who does this. I recently saw a tweet to @myronebell saying “I hope your children are the first to die,” which for me was probably taking it a bit far.
  4. At the end of the day… You’ll be proved right. Whatever else happens you’re gonna be handing out some of the biggest I-told-you-so’s in human history. Your children will be able to look you in the eye. And if the leaders of this new world want to go about solving the resource crisis by some Logan’s Run style solution, your efforts might even buy you a reprieve. Hey I did my best guys. Put someone else in your nutrient harvester.
  5. Stop reading George Monbiot’s Guardian column for a bit. Maybe even just set the current affairs to one side for a couple hours, yeah? Go outside. Feed the ducks (with rice or peas, you knowledgeable nature lover, you). See if Mark Ruffalo is in a new talkie. The world will probably still be there when you get back.
  6. Don’t get sad, get mad. Refocus your energies. When this old world starts getting you down, scapegoat someone who’s partially responsible and let your righteous anger flow. This is probably a very effective route to becoming an activist in the first place. When you can’t face the sadness, it’s time to bring the fire.
  7. Finally, and ironically this is the most serious point… You’re gonna need to maintain a good sense of humour. Ideally a pretty black one. Because the reality of climate change is so terrible, so bleak, so scary that it’s hard enough to believe never mind campaign against. So never forget to laugh and love, and remember you’re alive because these are the things that keep people going – and remind us what we’re fighting for.