Is it just me or is anyone else laying awake at night trying to shut apocolyptic, end-of-the-earth visions out of their heads? It seems that every morsel of environmental news seems to be worse than the last, or at least that's the cumulative effect. I remember hearing Al Gore say in An Inconvenient Truth that people had to move beyond the despair ... or get mired in it. It's very easy to see how that could happen.
I like to think that I do what I can in my own way. That is, I choose to use cloth nappies rather than recyclables (there is lots of debate on which is actually the better option, but I choose mine proudly); I have a small vegie patch in the back garden in which I grow my very own organic vegetables; I take reusable bags to the supermarket; I watch the water I use; I walk and cycle where I can; I have consciously cut my consumption (easy when I now only work three days a week - the income just isn't that disposable any more).
I subscribe to the view that everyone must do their bit - that small actions can add up to big effects. Really, I must believe this to keep floating above the despair. And yet I read an article in the Sunday paper (Sun-Herald, 19/8/07) by academic Hugh Mackay, saying that instead of taking action Australians were effectively burying their heads in the sand but turning inwards when faced with the 'bad news' of problems that seem overwhelming. Such as global warming - a biggie if I ever saw one. I worry that I am one of those people.
He wrote that Australians became incredibly introspective in the 1990s. Makes sense doesn't it? A kind of cocooning reaction when all about you is spinning out of control. Perhaps, to some extent, we all do it? I don't live in a home of my own, nor is it filled with designer furniture or plasma TVs. Yet in my last job I wrote continually about people who did have all these things - and sometimes this was just their holiday home. Renovating, cocooning, shutting out the world - it all serves to provide comfort ... but are we kidding ourselves in the process about what we can and can't have impact upon as individuals?
I personally want to lift above the despair I feel (and I really do feel it). I want to take action. Now, with a job and a toddler to handle, I don't have heaps of spare time. I can, however, take small steps. I can write letters and make my voice heard. I can live my life in a manner that fits better with the values that are important to me. In fact, I must. I need to sleep better at night.