Adding to the scary hour list

Tik Tok’s latest life hack, the scary hour, is the perfect time and space to plan our actions for the climate future of our loved ones.

We’ve tied ourselves up in knots trying to stay upbeat about the existential threat of climate change: our need for positive messaging, incentives and nudges make a great parody – aka Don’t Look Up. We have blind faith in technologies that either don’t exist, or not yet at scale. People who go rogue from the positivity script are ferociously branded as scare mongerers, wet blankets or naive and ignorant. It has created a lurking dissonance, wafting around us like a bad smell, between what the world’s brightest minds have been telling us for the last five decades and what we tell ourselves to avoid changing our behaviours.

So how refreshingly honest to hear the words ‘scary hour’. It’s the latest TikTok trend from Laur Wheeler, proposed as a life hack to deal with those horrible things that we procrastinate about, like paying bills, getting the leak fixed, seeing the dentist, replying to that 3-week old email and calling the in-laws. It’s a cute way to make the unmanageable manageable by naming and dedicating a time and space to it. Whether it’s once a day or once a week is up to you. The important thing is that, once done, you can move onto the more rewarding parts of your life feeling a lot lighter.

Scary hour is the perfect place to finally address our individual actions on climate change – obviously because climate change is scary, which is why we procrastinate about it. But also because, like going to the dentist, it involves discomfort and who wants that? But spending just some of those 60 minutes on what I can do about my loved one’s climate future could be transformational.

Imagine what you could finally get done:

  • the shopping list for a week of easy veggie recipes;
  • work out which trips you can do in the coming week without your car;
  • find a great new holiday destination you can get to by train;
  • google where to buy your next ‘toy’ second-hand, if at all;
  • find an environmental organisation or green cause to which you can donate that money you didn’t spend on your latest toy;
  • ensure your bank or investment portfolio is using your money sustainably;
  • if you can afford it, plan and start the energy upgrades around your home.
  • read up on the green policies of your political parties – even better write to your local politicians about what they’re doing about it;
  • support a local green group;
  • read the summary of the last IPCC report
  • plan what you want to say to your family and friends about this – super scary!

Scary hour is about facing up to our armchair environmentalist, that voice in our heads whispering that our steak has no impact on global CO2 emissions, that there’s point trying when our neighbours just flew to Timbuktu for their hols, that some expert will find a technology to save us, that we deserve more. It’s scary to think of missing out on our comforts and conveniences, but we have to say, “Sorry, mate (dude, bro, love, darlin’ etc), I’m not going to listen to your excuses anymore. I’m finally going to do what I can because I love the people in my life enough to take these easy steps.” As with most scary things in life, this first step is often more difficult than the subsequent actions.

Suddenly, you’ll find yourself acting as a climate mitigator, effectively contributing to the climate future of your loved ones. And you’ll be influencing others in your life to do the same – causing the ripples that create the waves of change.

Together, we’ve got this.

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