This week: climate action. That is all.
Happy Global Day of Climate Action!
This is a takeover! Legendary school strike movement Fridays For Future have declared today a global day of climate action. As Eric Damien from Fridays For Future Kenya says:
The pandemic has shown us that politicians have the power to act quickly and consistent with the best available science. But not even amid a pandemic is the climate crisis on hold. No measures have been taken to lower worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in a sustainable and just manner. The billion-dollar-investments that are now made to tackle the pandemic and its aftermath must be in line with the Paris Agreement.
My action—aside from sending this email, which unhappily costs the planet approximately 1kg in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions—is to spend the week in Dartmoor. I’m training for my Hill and Moorland Leader qualification and need to get some quality walking days done before the winter lockdown sets in.
Above: Watchful in Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor. Photo by legendary photographer and all round nice guy, Ben Queenborough (his words, not mine)
It might not sound like much of an ACTION, but spending more time in nature and helping others do the same is a significant element of the change we need to make.
Out on Dartmoor, the ‘environment’ isn’t a hypothetical entity beyond your screen. It’s coming at you from all angles, undeniable and awe-inspiring. We protect what we value, but we can only value what we know ourselves, first hand.
Above: Wistful near Devil's Tor, Dartmoor
Helping teenagers spend a couple of days immersed in nature—especially those who’ve never hauled a backpack into the woods or held a map the right way up before—makes it a little more likely that they’ll be sympathetic to radical economic and ecological change, not only when they grow up, but now.
A 2009 study from the University of Rochester found that exposure to mere photographs of natural landscapes nudged people to value their community and human relationships. On the contrary, exposure to images of man-built cityscapes made people more focussed on wealth and fame.
Above: Focussed on wealth and fame, but also focussed on not falling arse over tit on a massive trip ladder
In an attempt to explain why this should be, study co-author Andrew Przybylski suggested that nature helps us connect to our authentic selves.
Nature in a way strips away the artifices of society that alienate us from one another.
This is worth pondering. What kind of environments, in this fragile moment, should we choose for ourselves and our children? It doesn’t have to be Dartmoor: as the Rochester study showed: images work a little; plants work a little more.
What does your immediate environment look like today? What can you do now to turn your environment into action for the climate?
Above: Plant wisdom in the ancient forest
Here are a few other things I’ve written recently that you may be curious to encounter:
📚 A Fortune-Teller Told Me (17 September)
🥛 Maybe we’re doing okayish (11 September)
🧑🏽🤝🧑🏼 Death of an Anarchist (4 September)
🚴 Cycling around Britain archive (July, August)
Any more for any more?
A triple delivery of information for use in the culture wars. Credit to Documentally for sharing these in his excellent newsletter last week.
LONG READ: How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled
Confused about recycling? You should be. It’s designed that way.
This is a fantastic article by Laura Sullivan for NPR: US focussed, but applicable worldwide.
“If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment … They [oil companies] were not interested in putting any real money or effort into recycling because they wanted to sell virgin material. Nobody that is producing a virgin product wants something to come along that is going to replace it. Produce more virgin material — that's their business.”
Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry
You can also listen to this story as a 24-minute podcast: Waste Land.
PODCAST: How to Save a Planet: The Green Wave
This 42-minute episode of How to Save a Planet covers the origins and development of the grassroots Green Wave movement that has pushed the EU to develop and adopt the European Green Deal—and how the coronavirus pandemic has added urgency to political, social and economic change.
If you’re despairing that this is yet another European initiative that we in the UK can only wring our hands over, then get behind the Green Recovery Act.
EPIC READ: Emergency on Planet Earth
For anyone who suspects Extinction Rebellion to be an unhelpful collection of rabble rousers, XR Scientists have published Emergency on Planet Earth, a fully referenced and reviewed guide to the climate crisis.
There are two reasons that I like this document. Firstly, and selfishly, because, although the climate crisis is global, it is trimmed for a UK audience. What is our government doing to make this crisis worse?
Secondly because it makes a strong case for collective action. Individual action is nice, but it won’t be enough. Of course it won’t be enough—when has it ever been enough?
That’s all for this week. I wish you green fingers and muddy paws.
Hello, I’m David Charles and I wrote this newsletter. I publish another newsletter about reading called Books Make Books. I’m co-writer of BBC Radio Wales sitcom Foiled, and also write for The Bike Project, the Center for International Forestry Research and Thighs of Steel. Reply to this email, or delve into the archive on davidcharles.info.
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