Old habits die hard. Even with the promise of a better future. The global body and the individual are one and the same. We don’t like change, unless it offers immediate gain. Climate Change Behaviour Modification is like teaching an old dog new tricks – especially when your dog loves to eat off the table, out of the cat’s bowl, cruddy pieces from sidewalk garbage, etc. Dog wants food – anyone’s, anywhere, any time. So do we – our water, our air, our electricity. The thing is, we think it all belongs to only us – and that it’s ever-flowing. Overflowing. Someone in Maharashtra, India has no water? Okay, but I’m bathing in my Cancun hotel’s swimming pool. How does that affect me? Someone in Beijing is suffocating from air pollution? Okay, but I’m in Vancouver enjoying a jog on this bright Spring day. How does that affect me? Someone in Somalia is dieing for food? Okay, but I’m at a dinner party in Dubai and there’s so much to eat. How does that affect me? The power it takes to light The Empire State Building, The Eiffel Tower and the Hong Kong skyline is nectar from which we suck dry our juicy ride through unconscious consumerism. It’s tough and unfair; most of us want a taste of that “good life” and that same mindless indulgence afforded the privileged few. But five billion comrades are barely surviving and the remaining two billion of us are either marginally better off or cavalierly wing-dinging it to our collective demise.
The fault is less in Lifestyle than in Life. We’re creating more and more of it. The less there are of Us, the less depletion of our natural resources. Earth has what it has and we haven’t adapted accordingly. We want our cake and eat it too; by continuing to procreate in the billions without modifying our behaviour to accommodate our gracious host (the Planet). The fault is also not in the Emerging Nations. If a younger sibling sees you playing with your shiny new i-Phone, then tossing it for a shiny new i-Pad, then tossing it for a shiny new car, then tossing it for a shiny new anything … little sibling will want the same – even if just for an instant. It’s our nature.
So we the frontrunners – the elder brothers of our global family – have mirrored a “faulty folly” through self-indulgence and usurping the bounty. And now we mature into newfound awareness as our adolescent Middle Classes come up the ranks. They want to taste what we already had. They understandably demand their fair share. And some are incensed that the very siblings who hoarded their share now tell them there’s nothing left for them. A wave in the ocean is no more separate from its source than my swimming pool water in Cancun and your drought in Somalia. Same with the food, the air and the attitude adjustment. Climate Change and Changing Our Emotional Climate are as intrinsically linked as the skies over Europe and South America. How do you divide a sky?
It’s a handful to absorb and a mountain-load to climb. The bad habits from our unconscious youth indeed leave scars. The more we promulgate the Human Species as “superior beings” and distance our vital caregivers such as Bees, the more we increase risks to our environmental well being. Hard to visualise that the fragile existence of that corporate CEO in his / her executive penthouse office is fundamentally linked – nee dependent on – that anonymous bee thousands of kilometres away in a quiet flower piston. Penthouse. Piston. Corporate and corporeal headquarters. Both with value. Yet the big one obscures the little one’s importance with unconscious pretention. The biggest leaders of the biggest nations of the biggest corporations of the biggest banks in the world … are all dependent on that little bee. These are the ABSee’s we didn’t forget so much as never learned. Now it’s time. Wake up and smell the flowers (before they, too, disappear).
Either we slow down the birth rate for a while so the bowl doesn’t overflow and we can rebound … or we race to erase our boldfaced old ways with radical new ones. Let the profit margins spring from a well that’s plentiful rather than the impotent clutch of omnipotence that bleeds us dry. There is indeed choice. And choice borne of humility. The best of us and the worst of us are still and always ALL of us. We make mistakes, we embroil in power ploys and that’s our reality-workshop within which we learn to become a more evolved Human.
Leaving the lights on in every room? Letting the water run while you brush your teeth or make breakfast? Taking a 20 minute shower instead of a 10 … or an unnecessary bath that brims over while the lights are on but you’re out – in the other room chatting on the phone absentmindedly (lucky that you even have a room)?
Perhaps you’re that European shop owner on your big pedestrian street … and you leave the front door open on hot days while the air conditioning seeps out because you’re afraid customers will think you’re in fact closed. Yet in winter when your doors are closed no one thinks your shop is. Or perhaps you’re that American movie theatre pumping waaaay too much cold air to cool down your overheated audience who are far too preoccupied wasting crunchy munchy energy on palm-oiled popcorn and candy to notice the frosty thermometer. Are you that apartment building owner with all your corridors illuminated 24/7 so the halls seem less sinister (albeit in Europe where lights automatically turn on with motion detectors)? What about you, owner of The Eiffel Tower, The Empire State Building, The Burj Al Arab or other dazzling monuments? You don’t want to forfeit glorious aerial views for passenger jets landing and taking off above your luxus big city lights. And no one says you have to. Make those lights a special weekly viewing event rather than the daily norm.
By the way, you of the G400, flying to those VIP conferences about Environmental concerns in the security of your private jet … consider that your plane’s carbon footprint is imprinting a mixed message to the very public whose behaviour you demand change. Your security is certainly important but we’re just carbon-copying you, elder brother. We want to fit in, to feel included, and “monkey see monkey do” is our primal genetic coding. Mimicking is the sincerest form of flattery – but it can kill us if we don’t awaken to what we’re mimicking. Human Nature?
See how complex and connected Climate Change and changing our emotional climate are?
To change the climate we’ll have to stop stomping our frustrated little carbon footprint, climb to the summit of our deeply ingrained habits (“grain” becoming ever scarce … “rain” becoming ever acidic. Get the breakdown of the meltdown of my drift?) and change our ways – one tiny raisin at a time. So shut the water while you’re brushing your teeth and reading this blog … close the lights in that other room where the dog is snoring in bone-dream … and follow lazy-dazy-crazy me on my first mini-wake up call to environ-mental awareness. A light and fanciful tale but oh-so-telling —
It’s the Raisin Season – which is unlike the rainy season because there’s no water involved. Just droplets of shellacked black that start to descend from the winter walls of my home – on the inside. No reason to be afraid. Except that I was, because every year the spiders raise from the dead of winter to reintroduce themselves to me and only me personally – no discussions – for a prolonged and protracted summer season abroad. This broad.
I believe they arrive from some exotic port-of-call like Anguilla or Anguish-a or Angst-ella or one of those lush and fragrant oases of paradise that bloom with colour and immense flying-creepy-crawling cousins to my childhood fears of what lurks beneath my bed. My flat becomes their vacation rental and isn’t that dandy. They’ll set up house, unpacking into the upper unreachable corners of my wall unit where no human hand dare tread for fear of finding dust.
Their young will scurry about on ground level, embedding into the lower crevices I can all too easily access, to play hide and seek with me. But clever youngin’s that they are, they know I’m a sentimental sucker for teeny-weeny and won’t excommunicate them with a fearful bludgeon. It’s the parents that worry me. They look important and uncomfortably visible.
One day I was in the kitchen eating raisins. My floor is not grass sod (which would infer I live in a loin cloth in the jungle where moving creatures are the norm for close quarter roomies). The floors of my rental were ingeniously crafted of fake stone peppered with dark striations mimicking ancient Roman baths during the epoch of Cecille B. DeMille films.
Breakfast was nearly done. I dropped a raisin. I went to pick it up. And it moved. I then dropped the rest of the bag and observed the “moving still life” which further reinforced my wish for wintry snowdrifts – or a vacuum. I watched my raisin race across the “marble” with a combination of dread, paralysis and wonder. The raisin skidded into a corner and curled up in a ball that looked like a bead I’d recently lost from my necklace. But no way I was going to pick IT up and inquire. This little raisin was doing me no harm and might very well have been en route to its bungalow in the upper corners, having absentmindedly taken an excursion during my mealtime. I did not care. I wanted it dead – or out. And I wanted someone else to do my dirty work. I looked out the window and wondered how to ask a pedestrian in Turkish “I’m scared and squeamish. Would you please come inside and remove this innocuous raisin that’s polluting my peace of mind? And please, would you not maim or steal from me when I give you entry, kind Foreign Stranger?”.
Tough and trying, dealing with my reaction to raisin – moreover in a foreign tongue. I stared at the immobile black bead and entered beautification fantasy; that it was sea green, or lilac or some iridescent colour that could transcend my programming. Would I then be less stressed about cohabiting if it was “pretty”? Amplifying the Age of Cosmetic Surgery by painting raisins is a no-no, much as I’m aware some pooches are now being coiffed with punk hair colour. Nature is beautifully, mysteriously, powerfully what it is. The only touch-up that’s required is my mindset. Therein the challenge, when you’re raised on a raisin being ugly, dangerous, fear-inducing. Some raisins are indeed dangerous. But in my case I knew the danger lay strictly in perception; where the seeds of reversing climate change await irrigation.
The learning curve can be long and winding. No one’s expected to arrive at the summit. And – as with humanity itself – I am no more expected to love my fellow man by having lunch with each and every one than I am to open the doors of my home to all manner of creatures large and small. The key lies in tolerance and recognition of our intrinsic connection and right to exist – even if we’re of a different race or species – all the while preserving our comfort zone provided it doesn’t inflict harm on the other. Beautiful theory which we’ll repeatedly stumble over (raisin on the ground being that pebble in our shoe) as Evolution butts its nosey business into our comfort zones urging us to shift.
I did not kill my raisin. I did, however, spend an hour trying to squirt-gun it with another precious commodity we’re wasting; water. Finally, I relented. Picking up the scattered raisins from the floor, hoping to God none of them would move, I spent another hour taping up all the open crevices of my flat to prevent cousins and friends from also deciding to holiday. After that I was exhausted by fear and frustration and took a nap. When I awoke there was a ladybug on my hand. I looked at it in consternation; if it wasn’t pretty with polka dots … if society hadn’t programmed me to believe it was sweet … would I be afraid of this pretty little red raisin and kill it?
Are these the raisin-seeds of racism?
Water shortage … power outage … renewable energy … renewable You. Surmounting preconceived notions about Nature and Human Nature is tantamount to reversing Climate Change, one carbon footprint at a time. It’s a mountain-of-reform and we climb it together. Climb it – and Change.