This is part of a youth takeover: we asked our under 25 staff and volunteers to share their stories with us in the run up to the climate strikes, because we want to put their voices front and centre. They are raw, real and they're helping RSPB get with the times - challenging us to think differently - and we love it. Between 16th - 20th October you will see a new story each day. Enjoy!
In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists - by Tabea Wilkes (pictured left)...
In 2006, Al Gore stood on a cherry picker (pictured above) and pointed to the peak in global temperatures to show the world that: 'global warming is anything but normal'. In 2006... I was just 13 years old.
Not long after Al Gore's revelation, The Jonas Brothers (sorry!) released their cover of Year 3000*. The lyrics were catchy: 'I've been to the year 3000, not much has changed, but they live underwater, and your great, great, great granddaughter, is doing fine.'
With this, climate change had established itself as a moral conundrum - 'do you even care about your grandchildren's, grandchildren?'. In any case, did a future which evoked visions of mystical underwater hotels even sound that bad? Even if it did, the year 3000 was far enough away that nobody really cared.
The children born in 2006 will be 13 this year. Their understanding of climate change is a little different to how The Jonas Brothers painted it, because somewhere along the way, we all realised that our grandchildren's, grandchildren would be here long before the year 3000!
Hypothetically speaking, if I had a daughter today (all being well) she would live to the year 2100 or thereabouts. By current climate trajectories, she would experience the breakdown of society as we know it - underwater hotels or not! *Please enjoy this musical interlude:
And so - I get to my point... children (all of us in fact!) need space to dream. We need to be able to envisage the future we want to live in. However, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) - whose deadline of twelve years before we hit tipping point - has taken this away from us.
To me, this is what eco-anxiety feels like. Our dreams of the future have become a fight for our lives. Eco-anxiety is the place where our understanding of the breakdown of this beautiful planet on which we live, meets a feeling of complete helplessness. It is a very lonely place.
As environmental organisations, we are able to provide facts and figures, however (as crucial as that may be) raising awareness in this manner is not enough to get others to act. The reality is, in this day and age, we're dazzled by the media - there's always something else 'more pressing' to occupy our minds. We want to do more, we care, but in the words of Al Gore: 'we live in a culture of distraction'.
In the book Active Hope (a fantastic book for anyone struggling with eco-anxiety), Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone explore how actively creating a space to dream can be the start of effective, regenerative, action.
By creating a space in which we can once again feel free to imagine the future we want to live in (though hopefully a bit more sophisticated than an underwater hotel!) we discover what it is we must do today, in order to make a better tomorrow. As environmentalists, we can create a vision so compelling that it transcends facts and figures that inspire a generation!
To end, I repeat the words of Eric Hoffer: 'in times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.' - let us please be the former!
*Apologies to anyone who gets this song stuck in their head for the rest of the day, week, month - even year! As I said, it's very catchy ;)
Author: Tabea Wilkes, Nature Policy Officer, Cardiff
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