This post is going to be rather political and the way I will talk about the upcoming issue will not be of good taste to most people. Through my work email I received an email to support an initiative called “Scientists For Future” that concerns itself with climate change. The reason why I post my opinions is because some of my close friends prompted me to sign the statement a few weeks ago already and I considered signing it. Because, climate change! How could you not sign such an important statement warning society about a pressing issue?! However, I had a lot of time to think about it and decided not to sign it. Now that one of my colleagues sent it to me again it reminded me to put my thoughts into words.
The problem I see with this statement is that it follows the modern trend of avoiding responsibility. It is again a statement telling politics what they should do! After all it is their responsibility to change the world! Politicians failed to put policies in effect that would cut CO2 emissions! Politicians fail when they meet to agree on a future directive! Politics fails when they need to steer our society on a path to a bright future! Terrible politics! Let’s protest politics! Let’s show them that we want a green future! Let’s demand that the solve the issue of climate change! But first, lets buy another fast-fashion 5 EUR t-shirt, or maybe another phone – because the one I have now is not fashionable anymore.
In my opinion the solution to climate change is not politics. It is not signing some statement. It is about changing your own behavior. We know that our current political system does not work and we know that industry does not care about policies as long as there is money to be made. So people should stop having this romantic notion that politics will represent the necessary good and force policies on either industry or society. It is easy to see what happens if prices are raised – people complain and they will protest these changes. The “Yellow vests movement” in France is just one such an example. It is naive to expect that politicians will enforce policies that will ensure their downfall. It is also incredibly gullible to expect industries to change their practices. Their utmost important goal is to make money. They do not make money by producing environmentally friendly.
However, I feel like signing a statement such as the one from scientists for future bears an even greater risk. It not only externalizes responsibility it also gives you the feeling that you “did something”. You helped to change the world! You fought climate change. In reality you did nothing. You did a low effort action by clicking a few virtual buttons. This is not how climate change can be stopped.
You have to take ownership of your actions. You have to change how you consume, how you move, how you think. Only then can climate change be stopped. That means that instead of buying 10 new 5 EUR t-shirts you buy one sustainable 60 EUR t-shirt. Instead of being entitled to a 50 square meter apartment you should make due with 25 square meters. Instead of posting useless holiday pictures on Facebook from your last intercontinental trip you enjoy a holiday with friends in your own country.
Do I do all these things? No! But I try to reduce my consumption. I commute by bicycle every day. I try to take the train. I do not feel the need to go on holiday all the time. I do acknowledge that I am not perfect and that I do not everything I possibly could. Nonetheless, I think I do something important, I do acknowledge that I am part of the problem and that I am the only one who can change that.
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