As it says in my one line bio above, by day I work in the field of sustainability. I actually had to fight the urge there not to put the word in inverted commas à la most people who introduce me at meetings. It turns out that if you work in the area of trying-not-to-destroy-everything-for-everyone-else you get your very own punctuation with your title - thankfully these ickle baby speech marks aren't nearly as heavy as the tree we're expected to cart round with us at all times for impromptu hugging sessions or padlocking emergencies.
This piece stems from a slight disagreement I had with someone recently, caused by a simple - though evidently highly hypocritical - action of mine. Imagine the scene: ten of us, small meeting room, smaller window, typical British summer weather outside (lashing rain and force ten gales) - so I, in all my wisdom, turned the lights on. Cue the "witty" and clearly rehearsed "Ooooh! Turning the lights on, are we?? Thought you were into "sustainability!" Yes, because clearly this bestows infrared vision on all of us treehuggers. I'm pretty used to most people finding the whole concept of "saving the planet" at best new age-y and barefoot, at worst some sort of hare-brained, dope-fuelled scheme designed to steal money from innocent, tax paying citizens. I am the first to admit that the science is confusing and can seem contradictory - but the root of it, to try and ensure that future generations aren't igniting their farts to keep warm isn't exactly a hangable offence, is it?
As you can imagine, the recent cold winters have been particularly frosty for us "green people" - "Global warming?? You're having a laugh!" as they shake the snow off their boots and try to stab us with the nearest icicle. "Climate change, it's called climate change actually" can be heard, muttered, through the gritted teeth of fellow "environmental types."
Whether we've had an effect on global temperatures through our flagrant disregard for the laws of nature and our out-and-out greed is a matter for debate - whether we're using up our natural resources at a blistering pace is not. But sustainability isn't just about the environment; it's about how sustainable our lives, relationships and society are. It's also about money - economic sustainability is something that, historically, we're not marvelous at, boom and bust, anyone?
So you see, us "eco-warriors" aren't out to get you, steal your money and brainwash innocent children and puppies - making the world a better place is a bit grand, but even so, it's not exactly a bad aspiration. And what if we go all out to try and achieve this and it turns out the science wasn't right? Well, that depends on your viewpoint really - of which there are many. But as I'm approaching my word limit and there's a tree in need of a hug here, I'll highlight a few. There are those of us who believe that the earth will naturally regain its balance - think Russian gymnast on the beam - so for their part, what the science says doesn't matter much, as it'll all work out in the end. Then there are those that say, there's the potential that the science is wrong - best not do anything too rash, let's wait another few years and keep the lighters and the baked beans handy, just in case. And then there's us, the Superhuggers, who, if the science is proved wrong will look kind of silly wearing our pants over our tights; but cleaner air, affordable fuel, a resilient economy and inclusive and healthy communities is hardly the booby prize. Now, come here and give me a hug you big oak.
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