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Caught

Article by Steve Harvey, Director Impromptu

This week, the media has been dominated by the latest IPCC report in which climatologists warn of a number of increasingly imminent tipping points that could have catastrophic consequences for life on earth. They say that we must act now, in order to save ourselves from calamity and that acting now isn’t just about technical solutions, or government agreements on targets, or planting country size forests of trees, or climate change treaties, but, perhaps more significantly, it is about culture change, a shift in mindset, a transformation in our thinking, at a societal and an individual level.

I ponder this a lot. I want to contribute. I think about the plastics I use, the journeys I make, the heating of my home, about the food I eat. I take action. I switch off lights. I re-use and recycle. I car share. I use public transport. I try to avoid meat. I turn the temperature down.

And, at the same time, I catch myself browsing the internet looking at reviews of ultra-high definition televisions, because I want a sharper picture. I frequent Skyscanner to plan that trip. I consider my next car purchase with undue consideration of automotive over environmental performance. I find myself, constantly, caught in tension between two powerful impulses: the consumer; the conserver. I am, ineluctably, too much part of the problem, too little part of the solution.

It is with, perhaps, some irony, that I find this challenge particularly poignant at this time. At precisely 8.04am on Monday 24th September, my wife, Jude, and I waved our daughter off on the train to Manchester. At that moment we became, officially, empty nesters, with all the potential implications that has for increased time, freedom and opportunity to purchase, to travel, to consume.

But that’s not the answer. Remaining stuck in a consumerist paradigm is no longer an option. And I wrestle with it. I struggle with the short-sighted, self-indulgent individualism that drives my, our, behaviour toward an unknown path of self-destruction.

I wish for a simpler life, one where my and our decisions and actions are based on preserving the fine balance of our planet’s ecosystems, on the future, on my children’s and their children’s health and happiness, on my environmental legacy.

Next stop; John Lewis, to get that TV.

No.