Firstly, I’d like to extend my best wishes for the New Year to everyone who is reading this. I hope you, your friends and families are blessed this year with all the good health, prosperity and happiness that you eminently deserve.
I previously posted the above photo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when passing on my New Year greetings to my followers and friends on those platforms. I chose it as I hope that is how 2020 will be eventually be viewed. If we choose to look for it, light can be found although rain clouds may predominate.
I won’t deny that 2020 wasn’t a difficult year for most. We all were burdened in some way, shape or form from the fallout of the pandemic raging across the globe. However, we can claim small victories if we look hard. While it might sound premature and naïve to some, I am hoping that a better world can be one of those victories borne from this pandemic.
Which leads me to ask: what small role can I play in midwifing this better world into existence?
After completing my Climate Reality Leadership Corps training last year, labor pains have been encountered in expediting a higher level of engagement in environmental activism on my behalf. With 2021 upon us, and it’s manifesting plenitude of promises and potential, I have written up a list of New Year’s resolutions in my personal diary. These are private, and will remain so. However, I have also created a list of resolutions related to environmental activism that I will put on public display here. Some of these ideas are still embryonic, but I intend to devote more of my commitment, time and energies to the generational moral challenge that confronts all of us regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion, ethnicity, wealth or current location.
- Complete a course on the causes of climate change: In my experience, when people give their views on climate change, their opinions often are based on the following three sets of premises:
a) The first premise accepts increasing CO2 levels are warming the planet, and said emissions will cause unforeseen disaster and calamity for all life on Earth
b) The second premise dismisses the post industrial revolution uptick in global temperatures outright
c) The third premise begrudgingly acknowledges that the planet is indeed warming thanks to increased CO2 emissions. However, it puts said warming down to factors that are extraneous to said emissions. It will point at things such as the spin axis of the Earth, population growth in the Horn of Africa, rotting vegetation or volcanic eruptions as the reasons why our biosphere is slowly cooking like a frog in a saucepan of hot water.
For an environmentalist of good faith, its usually not worth expending the emotional or intellectual currency in trying to persuade supporters of premise B to the reality of climate change, as I believe that their beliefs have little reach beyond their own denialist echo chambers. That’s not to say it can’t be done. However, if the holder of such opinions is irrevocably convinced of the righteousness of their beliefs or are just being willingly obtuse, you are on a fool’s errand. Furthermore, they are unlikely to influence anyone who hasn’t already drawn their own ideological lines in the sand. That’s my opinion at least.
However, thanks to it’s superficial veneer of dialectic pretense, I contend that premise C needs to be authoritatively refuted when it rears it’s head, as I believe that it has greater potential to ooze toxic misinformation into the lay public discourse. To counter it, rhetorical polish, a willingness to engage and a firm bedrock of knowledge concerning the mechanisms behind climate change are essential.
Therefore, I will take a short course run by the University of Exeter on the Future Learn platform entitled ‘Climate Change: The Science’ to prepare me for the potentiality of having to deal with the disciples of premise C. When advocating for any issue, one needs to be able to confidently and authoritatively respond to any contrary opinions posed. I hope that this will enable me to argue my case for a greener future more efficaciously.
- Read more books concerning environmentalism/the climate crisis and to review two of them for this blog: One of my greatest passions is reading. The very nature of this blog should indicate that. Last year, with COVID enforced stay at home orders as my unwelcome ally in this task, I was able to finish 40 of them. However, when trawling through the list of weighty tomes, pithy publications and disposable potboilers I got through in 2020, I noticed only ONE book concerning the environment. It was a Japanese book entitled 「再エネ大国日本」への挑戦 (The Challenge for Japan to Become a Renewable Energy Powerhouse) by 山口豊 (Yutaka Yamaguchi). This needs to improve.
My overall reading goal for this year is 45 books, with four Japanese titles thrown in. I intend to remedy my pitiable shortfall of environmentally focused books by resolving to read at least six of them this year. I also plan on participating in the Climate Reality book club when my schedule aligns with their online Zoom meetings.
I have already finished Waste: One Woman’s Fight against America’s Dirty Secret by Catherine Coleman-Flowers and have downloaded Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken, Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth by David C. Korten, and 脱プラスチックへの挑戦 持続可能な地球と世界ビジネスの潮流 (The Challenge of Divesting from Plastic/The Trends Within Our Renewable Planet and World Business) by 堅達京子 (Kyoko Gendatsu). I’ve even thrown in some environmental fiction in there with Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta.
- Give a presentation on the climate crisis in both English and Japanese: The reason why I need to apply greater intellectual rigor to all matter environmental, and why I may need to be prepared to respond to ideas resistant to climate change science, is that I am going to give a presentation on these topics! Much of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training revolved around giving a presentation in the spirit of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s famous slideshow on climate change. As such, I will be giving a similar presentation though I doubt I will be nearly as eloquent or informed.
Alas, there have been three obstacles stopping me from diving head first into this so far:
a) With my hands full with other projects, it’s been hard to do. I have recently been honored with being able to participate in a joint Amnesty International/Black Lives Matter podcast on the Black Lives Matter movement in Japan. I was also allowed to be the moderator of a panel discussion entitled Not Drowning but Fighting on YouTube that featured Lavetanalagi Seru, an activist with the Alliance for Future Generations in Fiji, discussing the impacts of the climate crisis in that island nation. While being far from the only person contributing to those joint efforts (I am so amazingly proud and fulfilled by the effort all who volunteered put into them), they did expend a cost in both labor and personal time.
b) A little something called COVID-19 has had an effect on holding public gatherings!
c) Also, I’ve been somewhat perplexed as to the width and breadth of this project. While I have put together some preliminary notes and plans, I still need to work out what ground I want to cover. My intuition is that I should illustrate the effects of climate change on my two home countries, Japan and Australia, before looking at the ways this problem can be tackled both societally and individually. Even with that bare bones framework, the following will also need to be considered:
〇 the use of multimedia and audio,
〇 whether it will be a traditional ‘speech’ or whether I will interact with my audience,
〇 how the themes will be tailored towards my intended audience. For example, a speech that hits the mark with high school kids mightn’t land with the local Rotary club,
〇 the differences between and the nuances of English and Japanese presentation styles,
〇 when I will give the presentation,
〇 the length of my presentation.
These are cats and jelly I wholeheartedly look forward to addressing, but still the abovementioned set of dot points are a lot of cats to herd and jelly to nail to the wall! Any advice concerning the above listed issues is welcomed enthusiastically! This and number 4 are the two resolutions I genuinely look forward to sinking my teeth into. Any person I can convince is a net positive for the our planetary welfare.
- To take up a new personal habit(s) that reduces my carbon footprint: In a society that is in a spiraling addiction to a pernicious and narcissistic cult of self worship and an unshakeable conviction in one’s own agency, the solution to the climate crisis is too often portrayed as a consequence of individual actions. This misapprehension is often weaponized by the disingenuous, the compromised and the avaricious to filibuster dialogue for the sole purpose of paralyzing collective activism and environmental solidarity. It’s shamelessly wheeled out as a obscurantist bulwark, which conveniently ignores that twenty international firms alone are responsible for thirty percent of global emissions.
To put the blame on individual citizens is unfair, mendacious, and disingenuous. Hence, when asked about climate change, we must emphasize that a large part of tackling it ultimately comes down to economic models, supply chains, governmental policy and market intervention; things that many individuals in isolation can’t grasp, let alone reform, on their own.
That being said, there is something we can all do in our own way to help salve the wounds of our aching planet. Last year, I sold my car, started biking, bussing and training to work and refrained from eating meat five days out of seven. This year, I plan on using no PET bottles this year, and exponentially reducing the amount of single use plastic I consume; no mean feat when you are living in Japan. Small steps, but they all count. The more people who choose to reuse worn out clothes, who cut down on meat and fuel consumption, who transfer their energy provider from one that relies on fossil fuels to ones that use sustainable, green energy, the greater momentum we will accrue in bringing about consequent changes in the market.
If anyone reading this can set an achievable habit that can help me in this endeavor, please feel free to comment.
If 2020 symbolized by the picture I posted at the start of this blog, I hope that 2021 is symbolized by this photo. Dawn is breaking. The ride is about to start. Best we all get aboard.