On the international stage, we have as a country made a commitment to tackle and reduce greenhouse gas emissions ̶ and as a developed country we are expected to take a lead on emission reduction targets. While it is up to us to decide how best to address this reduction, a major part of this will be weaning ourselves off fossil fuels. Essentially, our future calls for a very different way of thinking about our lives.
The old story that has guided our lives, that wealth and material consumption are the paths to happiness is based on a world that fossil fuels enabled. Yes, that up-graded car, the renovated kitchen, the larger house, the trip overseas... while all contributing to a sense of success, are based on a fossil fuel dependence and on a system that is no longer sustainable.
So we need a new story to help shape our lives but what will that new story be? As Professor Ryan, from Melbourne University has said: “A new story will have us embracing a non-carbon future; consuming less while having more; valuing diversity and our network connections; and placing a high value on services and natural capital rather than on goods/things. Underlying these changes will be an understanding of our interdependence with others, and our dependence on maintaining flourishing ecosystems and if we are to survive, a value on relationships”.
But do we believe that change is necessary? From a 2015 national survey of over 6,000 New Zealanders we know that over half of us believe in the reality of climate change and its cause by human activity. And yet it is difficult for us to prioritize the work this demands when there are so many other worrying, competing and, dare we say it, more manageable concerns. Internationally, there is concern at the slow pace of change in our thinking: Why are we not threatened by environmental destruction? Why are we moving so slowly to save ourselves? It is possible that our own evolutionary bias makes it difficult for us to come to grips with this new reality. We focus more on our own lives impacted by the vividness of risks and tend to disregard what we cannot see or feel. We are also caught up in unexpected life changes that stall even the most motivated of us...the injured needing nursing, the child requiring an urgent operation, the newly widowed neighbour - all require our attention and we give it without question - our responsibility clearly to family and community. The short term prevails - the future discounted
We are in fact experiencing what is called a slow crisis... a long emergency. So what does this mean for us as people of Marlborough? Are we changing or are we too entrenched in our current lifestyles? If we considered climate change a priority would we still be living and working as we do now? Would we measure success in the same way? What indeed would be our story? To inform your thinking come along to the Earth Day to hear more of what is happening around the country.
Climate Karanga Marlborough
The posts are a collection of opinion articles written by CKM member Tom Powell for the Marlborough Express. Tom is a retired geologist who came to New Zealand in 2004 to work in the geothermal industry on the North Island, is a New Zealand citizen and now lives in Blenheim.