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On Acting Globally

By David Macilwain, WATCH (Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health)

It’s an idea that’s been around for a while – “think globally, act locally” – and it is usually in this spirit that we ‘live lightly’. Many little things can be done in our daily lives, and the total of these can be more than the sum of the parts; our community consciousness benefits and so does our local environment.

I don’t want to belittle these individual actions or the benefits that ensue, but I don’t view the world through rose-coloured glasses; I often reflect on the huge amount of energy and enthusiasm that goes into them and despondently compare this with the daunting Global realities. These realities, which even the most committed ‘local actor’ can see, come down to two things – the unavoidable signs that the climate is changing, and the dedication of governments and corporations to pursue economic growth at any cost.

Whether these ‘global actors’ ( and I wish they were only acting!) see the coming disaster of climate change but press ahead with their mad projects with wilful blindness, or whether they are simply blinded by their self-interest hardly matters to us; the effect is the same – the Ice is melting, which means the climate is passing a tipping point. The planet is a bit like a house with white ants – by the time you find them in the door frame they’re already in the rafters. The burning of fossil fuels that has caused this heating of the frozen poles took place years ago; although we have no choice now but to live with the consequences, we have mostly benefited from the energy produced.

From now on we do have a choice – the choice to ‘live lightly’. But the real choice – on global carbon dioxide emissions – is not ours to make. This choice is being made daily across the world in boardrooms and cabinet meetings, in trade agreements and arms purchase deals, by men – mostly – in suits and robes; the choice to pursue business as usual. Our little acts of kindness to the planet are of no consequence to them; all our efforts to reduce our own emissions neutralised by one stroke of a pen, or by one handshake sealing a deal.

It’s no use kidding ourselves, and for me it’s impossible – failing a pair of rose coloured and frosted glasses. If we really want to ‘make a difference’, we must ACT globally, and FIGHT globally.

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