Dec 22, 2019
Coming up to Christmas 2019 it would be encouraging to know that family gatherings across the world will be embracing the idea of ‘family assemblies’, where the relationship between the behaviour of family members and climate and ecological breakdown will be discussed. The idea would be to focus on ‘climate justice’; how to avoid the burden falling on those countries and generations least responsible for causing the problem. This will involve building a sense of collective responsibility for making changes consistent with a transition to zero emissions; starting with significant reductions without delay.
There has been extensive research into the failure to take effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the last 40 years during which the science of global heating was being confirmed (see https://climateoutreach.org). One theory has been the extent of a ‘conspiracy of silence’. People have had a hard time admitting that they are not adequately informed about the consequences of their actions, or have had a sneaky suspicion that their impacts are exceeding their ability to make amends, and have tried to avoid charges of ‘hypocrisy’. This is in the context of systems (of which we are all part) making it difficult socially and/or economically to make the low/zero carbon choices, together with the constant promise of technological fixes.
For those of us who believe that the reasons for not taking action are losing or have lost validity, and that behaviours will now have to change significantly, working together in groups (eg families) could and should provide a sense of purpose, responsibility, support, solidarity etc. Importantly, this is the time of year when we are used to ‘doing things for others’ that could be a perfectly good reason for taking action even for the most sceptical amongst us. If changes can be made to be rewarding, enjoyable and funny so much the better.
It is very likely that some family members would have traveled to gatherings and parties (ie ‘love miles’) in ways that are dependent on fossil fuels. This will be a ‘touchy subject’ for those who feel that carbon reductions might be an obstacle to future get-togethers. The family assembly would be a good place to explain that cutting down on ‘love miles’ must not be taken to show that we care less, but that we actually care more. None of us should want to be seen to be harming the future prospects of our kith and kin.