Climate action! Conservation action! Environmental action!
The Oxford Dictionary defines action as “the process of doing something to make something happen or to deal with a situation”.
Sometimes, you may feel distraught, lost, and not sure of what you can do to make a difference. Many times we think we need to have plenty of resources to make a difference. All you need is to take a simple step. It doesn’t have to be complex. It could be as simple as using your skills, hobbies or interest to pass a message.
I recently had a conversation with a dancer. At that moment I knew he had something to offer. Something that he may not know or even realise that he has that could bring about the change that he wanted by merging his interest in creating awareness of the environment through dancing. Dancing in itself is an art which he can utilise to talk about climate change and even educate people about the actions they can do to make a difference. Many times, we tend to think that the skills we have cannot bring about change. That you need to study environmental-related courses in tertiary institutions to understand what is happening on planet earth. If this were the case, numerous people would not be advocating for environmental education from the primary school level.
Learning about nature and the environment is as simple as developing an interest in it and looking for the available resources to educate yourself on the matter. You don’t even need to have a mentor in the field to teach you about our planet. With the internet, you can search for anything and even anyone. When you are interested in an issue, what you are looking for will come your way.
In other situations, you may feel not being part of major events and conferences is not helping you in taking action. In most instances what happens in these events is more talk and little action. You may have the best negotiation skills – but what about taking the needed actions to deal with the situation at hand with the same skills you use in these events?
You may think if you are not in the same space as leaders you won’t be able to make a difference. What if you bring your seat by starting your initiative or speaking up even if it’s on social media or when having discussions with others? You never know what will be the outcome of doing this.
It’s also crucial to be realistic. We can’t eat fossil fuels but many economies run on this. We can advocate stopping the exploration and development of oil rigs and coal-based power plants. Even as an individual you have the power to take the action in the little ways you can. We don’t need one person doing one big thing, we need millions of people doing a million little things because fighting a crisis is a marathon, not a sprint.
Taking action could be as simple as analysing your daily lifestyle habits and the simple changes you can make. Are you buying too many food products in plastic packaging? Are there alternatives? Where are you buying perishable food? Are you supporting the local farmer? Are you away of the impending laws and regulations that could affect small-scale farmers? Is there something you can do about it? Sometimes we may not want to ask ourselves questions because of the fear of the changes we will need to take in our life. Change is however constant and a habitat you need to adapt to face the ecological crisis we are in.
My biggest take on action is the people we speak to on environmental action. So many times we are only talking to the converted. The people who agree with every single word we say or what we do. The people who will say “yes, we are in an ecological emergency and we need to take action.” What about the people who don’t care whether we are headed to mass extinction? For anyone who believes issues search as climate change are a western world concept or a punishment from God. What about the people who don’t even understand what is going on and why people are advocating for the protection of nature through marches? Living in a bubble where you think you are among the few people who can solve a problem will only lead to unnecessary depression and anxiety.
Have you had conversations with your family, friends or neighbours about even the simple things like how using a plastic bottle affects us in the end? Recently, a statement has been going around on social media when a tortoise was deemed to be racist. Several people now would rather use plastic straws because they want to harm turtles. Creatures like snakes, komodo dragons, bugs and spiders are not on the top list of animals to like – yet they are critical ecosystem indicators. Every single living thing has its role to play on the earth which we all share – why not share this information with them in the simplest of ways? Always think about how you would explain the most complex topics to a five-year-old.
We do need to have conversations with our circle of friends outside of what we believe in. Everyone has a different passion or interest from us. Influence someone whose main goal is to buy land into getting into sustainable farming. Enlighten someone interested in the oil and gas industry to invest in green energy will benefit them in the future. Empower a current or future political leader to advocate for sustainable choices and action as they serve the public. Greed is a factor affecting the future of the human race. The threats affecting the planet can be overwhelming. As an individual even though you cannot force someone to be empathetic to the planet you can influence a ripple effect of change.
It’s also important to always talk about what is happening where you are. Speaking about drought in a flood-prone area is quite irrelevant as is speaking about ice caps melting when someone hasn’t even seen snow or ice in their lives. They cannot be able to relate with it.
Action is not only about what you do to cause change but how you do it. You have the power to make that small change in someone else’s life. There are many ways people can be involved to avert species extinction, reduce pollution, advocate for the implementation of working policies, raise the needed awareness, support indigenous communities and youth working on action-oriented initiatives and be the voice of the voiceless.
You can look inward to what you are already doing and bring that to climate, conservation, and environmental action. You can create positive change no matter what skills you have or what you do.
Featured image © Anthony Ochieng/ TonyWild