This might come as a bit of a surprise. But hey, our planet has been around for several billions of years. A scattering of human beings on its surface is not going to make the slightest difference. If our planet can survive meteor showers, it can survive 10 billion humans. It is pretty clear that the planet doesn’t need our help, and that earth has seen, and will see, many iterations of life be created and be destroyed.
However, I still passionately believe that we are living in a climate emergency. An emergency that will drastically change the world, the diverse ecosystems, and the beautiful places that animals, like us, live within. A planet that has been coated in radioactive plastic would not be much fun for us.
And that is my point. It’s all about how we have been framing the problem. When you frame a photo or a piece of artwork, the framing can significantly change its appearance and its appeal. The same goes for problems.
By re-framing things in such a way that we, globally, recognise the personal impact, it becomes easier to be motivated to make a change. There is always more motivation to do something if it is in your own interest. For example, organic agriculture is undoubtedly better for our existing environment, but do most people buy organic because it’s ecologically superior? I doubt it. Do shoppers pick organic because it’s better for them? Most emphatically yes.
So, if we are to get humans to start actually doing something serious about the environment then it is key that we re-frame the problem.
As David Attenborough starkly warned in the recent Extinction, this is not a problem faced just by threatened animals. Stop viewing this as a problem for endangered animals, rainforests and ice caps and start framing it as a problem for you. While Covid-19 has amply displayed that we are capable of massive change – and fast, Attenborough rightly points out that pandemics such as this will not be uncommon in our future unless drastic changes are made. Soon.
Our adaptations only happened because people were terrified of dying or losing loved ones – a primarily selfish motivation. Likewise, if we are going to get people to do anything radical about climate change, we need to reframe it, highlighting why a collapse in our current ecosystem and a reduction in global bio-diversity is bad for you, as an individual. We need to frame it as such that being generous to the environment, to ourselves, and each other, all part of the Generous Revolution, are the only ways to achieve a better future.