Me vs. my armchair environmentalist

I had a run-in with my armchair environmentalist (AE) again last night. I had to go to a meeting of a local environmental group I’m in. Of course, it’s pretty uncool to turn up to an environmental meeting by car, but sometimes I have no choice. Last night, though, I had loads of time.

That was the starting point of an absurd, internal dialogue. AE shot back with a grim weather forecast – rain. I checked the forecast again – yes, it might rain, but I hadn’t yet lost my one sturdy umbrella and thought I could manage the walk to the train station without risking either my health or my mascara.

AE: Yes, but you could get a couple of extra things done if you took the car – put on a load of washing, finally send those emails you’ve been putting off.

Me: No, I shouldn’t – gotta walk the talk when possible.

AE: But if you took the car, you could get the shopping done on the way – everything done in one trip.

Me: But for once I have plenty of time to go by pubic transport so I should make the effort – it’s embarrassing always coming by car.

Then – and it’s hard to admit it – my AE quickly identified all the parking places where I could hide my car close enough to the meeting and pretend I’d come by train.

Me: Really, could I?? No, for sure I’ll get caught out.

I won’t bore you – or further embarrass myself – with the rest of it. Needless to say, I didn’t succumb to its sneaky suggestions, or I wouldn’t have written this post. Ridiculously, I feel a sense of pride in doing the right thing. What finally swayed me was both social pressure from the group and appreciating that it was a simple thing I could do for my kids. Any downsides? I don’t feel like I lost an hour of my life. It passed pleasantly enough – and I got in some exercise, a little reading and a chance to think mindless nothings.

Daily life is packed with small decisions that impact the climate interests of our loved ones. Your AE may be scoffing at your paltry efforts to mitigate climate change, but you don’t have to listen. the simplification of the complexity of climate mitigation.This dissonance, between the complexity of the system we are part of and the simplicity of what we can need to do as individual citizens and consumers, is a great excuse to do nothing:

AE: Your 10-minute car ride has zero impact on reaching net-zero – we need big-picture, global solutions.

Me: Yes, we do. But, equally, we need everyone in the system to do what they can.

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is at its highest-ever level, caused by human activity – billions of small actions like unnecessary car-trips that have accumulated into the damage facing our loved ones. Converesly, small decisions to act and vote green result in less CO2 emissions and a change of mind-set that guarantees them a livable climate.

I might have to take my car next time, but that’s OK – like any healthy relationship, it’s about compromise not all-or-nothing, and I just proved to my AE that catching the train is doable – even enjoyable. So I’ll do it again.

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