Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Confessions of an Eco-worrier

Radio broadcasts, news segments, blogs, emails, newspaper headlines, books, casual conversations, any of these can promote an eco-panic attack.  There are many contributors to these attacks; the issues of over-population, deforestation, profligate resource use, acid seas, oil spills, loss of biodiversity, toxic food processes, soil salinity, water shortages and peak oil – that’s if we can see beyond that great mushroom cloud of global warming. Not sure if it was the length of that sentence that has me breathless or if I’m suffering an eco-panic attack.

The problems are overwhelming. With commitment we could (probably) solve them. But we don’t. It’s like watching a tsunami approach from under a beach umbrella and remarking on its size while sucking on a pina colada. It’s like closing your eyes while driving down a winding hill. It’s like rolling every morsel of commonsense ever known into a ball and sitting it in a dusty corner of a museum to await labelling.

Eco Worrier symptoms are; an obsession with knowing and understanding everything that’s happening on a global scale; reading scary books that read like sci-fi novels of gloom, doom, despair and the end of the world as we know it, (and we don’t feel fine); watching movies, many of them the earnest preachings of movie stars turned environmentalist evangelists, and that fist of fear tightens. This is no longer just the preserve of the side of the road loony holding the ‘end of the world is nigh’ sign.  This is mainstream. It’s flashed in front of us constantly; CO2, global warming, sea level rise. This feeds our fears, but we’re so darn busy feeding our families and paying the rent we can’t commit nearly enough time to doing everything that’s becoming mandatory – changing our own personal world 360 degrees.  This increases the desire to do more, yet the fear and guilt do not enliven us – they paralyse. We become spectators at the arena of environmental destruction. We don’t want to watch, but not to is too great an indulgence and so we open our eyes, and do everything we can; read those scary books, change those bloody light bulbs; install the insulation; but we know, deep inside, it isn’t enough.

So this eco-worrier, having resolved to do something more, looks outside and sees the flotilla of modern society on the rivers of no change. While I can’t see the carbon atoms accumulating I know they are there.  I see their birth as I drive impatiently behind logging trucks lugging themselves up steep slopes as they deliver the combined tree life of thousands of years to its ultimate destination as toilet paper and the print out of the email I received last week on the ten stupidest road signs I’ve ever seen.

I’ve decided to do my bit, no matter how small, only to step outside and it seems so very few others are.  The panic rises, what does my incalculably small contribution mean?  Is it meaningless? Is all this eco-worrier business without point? Am I squandering my hard earned on solar panels when I could fly to Bali in winter and relax? But it’s too late; it requires some serious abstinence of thought and conscience to do so. No matter how hard I push down the guilt it has floatation devices and keeps bobbing back up. This annoys me. Here I am, trapped in the eco-worrier cycle with no way to get off. I am now a thwarted, frustrated, angry participant in this global experiment in energy extravagance. And I still haven’t done much more than change my light bulbs.

If this sounds familiar, you  might just be a fellow eco-worrier, one of a growing demographic.
In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that...

I can’t afford to feel overwhelmed, nor guilty, I don’t need perfect knowledge, a lot of money, heaps of time. All that does is compound the problem and stops me from doing what I can.
My actions will not save the world, that should never have been my goal. It’s about doing the things that are within my power to do, that’s all I can. I don’t think of it as an obligation, I think of it as an adventure.


Leah said...

I'm good at worrying, but not so good at any warrior-ish moves. So, I'm trying to do what I can, but NOT worry about the rest. Quite possibly ostrich like.

I loved your series of myths :)

Gavin Webber said...

I too am guilty of being a part time eco-worrier, but I balance that with action as you do.

Someone still has to feed the chooks everyday, make the bread and cheese, and spread the word about how wonderfully difficult our lifestyle is!

Yours in greening, Gavin

Alicia said...

My thoughts exactly, we can only do what we can, panic doesn't help anybody. You hear of people that panic and stockpile when they hear about peak oil, but the stockpile will run out eventually, you just have to learn to be less dependant on the system, and work together with others.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou Eco Worrier.
You do inspire. And that is a wonderful point of causation that you have.

Whilst not ideal, I am on my way. So far I have designed and built a beautiful incredibly well insulated home which needs little heating and cooling, have a good solar array, and a water tank, and have a garden on the go for some veges, with a few chooks. It is a start and more will follow. Still in suburbia. But by simply putting solar up, was responsible for a further 6 people in my street and friends doing the same. Asking me questions of costs and benefits and following the example. You will be surprised what ripples you do create with your entertaining blog. Things you will never even learn of have changed for the better simply by being there and communicating. Thanks, Adrian