ACT NOW IDIOTS

When I hear news reports about our degrading environment and the decimation of the natural world and its wildlife, I am often guilty of turning off the radio. It’s not that I don’t care. I care very much, but sometimes feel overwhelmed, sad and powerless to respond.

This morning on my way to an early morning exercise class I listened to BBC Radio Five Live discussing the latest climate change report. Scientists, it says, urge ‘deep, rapid change to limit {global} warming,’ it’s the ‘final call’ they say. The latest warnings come in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after three years of research and, latterly, meetings in South Korea between scientists and government officials.

The report is detailed, and I have no intention of rehashing it here. The large news agencies across the world have already reported the findings. They’ve told us that Kaisa Kosonen from GREENPEACE, an observer of the South Korea meetings said, “Scientists might want to write in capital letters, ‘ACT NOW IDIOTS’. Where else did you think I got the purposefully eye-catching title to this article?

Instead, during these paragraphs, rather than inundate you with government statistics and scientific prophesies of global doom, I want to talk about its relevance to us all, closer to home, and what we can do to help, in our small ways.

It is easy to forget how much personal power we wield on the front line of life. I have to remind myself of this, from time to time, when faced with seemingly impossible tasks, such as stopping the ice caps melting or intercepting every bullet of a poacher’s rifle. The power though is in the form of gradual rather than drastic change. I call this ‘one-stepping’.

The term ‘one-stepping’ comes from my experiences, ten years ago, while on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Japan. For the pilgrimage to be considered a success, I had to walk 1,400 km, in thirty days, while visiting and praying at 88 Buddhist temples. It was difficult and at times overwhelming, but a Holy man I met on the way reminded me to focus on just one step at a time until the journey is complete.

Now that I have remembered this advice, and have come out from under the covers of avoidance, I’m going to implement the same tactic to try and help our planet, one step at a time. I invite you to join me on the journey. Please.

The art of one-stepping 

Intimidating statistics from detailed reports don’t necessarily inspire change. Being told that: “Global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030”, and that “ Minimum sea ice extent was 7.7 million square kilometres in 1980 but was down to 3.6 million in 2012”, doesn’t translate to our day-to-day lives and experiences. These bits of information are too impersonal and large to comprehend. It’s near impossible to relate to them: like telling a child starting Primary school that they are laying the foundations for University. True, but utterly wasted information on a mind not yet ready to hold the magnitude of such words.  Yes, the planet is in a mess, but we still need to get the children to school, do the weekly food shop and pay the bills, despite melting ice caps.

Instead, let’s break down significant challenges into single steps; ones that are possible to integrate within the confines of our busy lives.  In this way, let’s see what we can do to make a difference. But first, what are the challenges before us that need dividing?

The more we all consume, the more our world is drained of its natural resources.

Flying, buying, waste and eating are things we all do, often mindlessly, and that we could effortlessly reduce today. Let’s take each point in turn.

Eating, drinking and throwing it all away

We begin our campaign of saving the world one step at a time with our early morning coffee.

If you are like me, you probably buy at least seven cups of coffee, or more, a week. If you have them to ‘go’, this adds up to 364 cups and plastic lids a year. All of these used, just once, then thrown away.

Am I going to suggest cutting down on coffee? No, not at all. How about investing in a reusable cup though? You still get your coffee kick and save 364 cups and plastic lids a year (and most coffee shops now reward customers with extra loyalty card stamps if you do.) Easy. One. Simple. Step.

So now that we’ve begun and touched the planet with our compassion at breakfast time let’s see if we can help at lunchtime too.

According to research, the meat industry is unsustainable. Don’t panic; I won’t proselytise the evils of meat or suggest you become vegan overnight. But I do recommend this: next time someone invites you to a barbeque (not likely in the UK but I suppose that’s one upside of Global Warming- more outdoor cooking time), have one less meat pattie, sausage or rib.

Another single, simple step. It all adds up.

Buying

We live in a world and time when our economy is considered to be failing if it is not growing. This idea leads to a never-ending increase in production and the need to sell it all, just in time to restock and do it all again!

While it would be unreasonable to expect you to delve into the mammoth task of rewriting economic ideology or renouncing all worldly goods, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that, next time you pick up that t-shirt, blouse and whatever else, to ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” If you do, crack on. If not, you saved yourself a penny, and our planet can breathe a small sigh of relief.

Flying

The damage done to our environment from long-haul air travel is enormous and is growing. Any measure taken in this regard can make a world of difference. Literally.

Does that mean I’m no longer going to travel with my wife to visit her dad in South Africa and her mum in Oman? Nope. I will. Of course, I will- who can avoid visiting the in-laws? But I will seriously consider travelling a little less: instead of twice a year, maybe just once a year.

I will also consider rejigging my bucket-list. Instead of focusing solely on adventures across the globe, I’ll turn my head to the beautiful treasures on my doorstep here in Europe. Marvel and wonder are everywhere, near or far, if you care to look.

These are small, but not insignificant changes- the art of one-stepping in action.

All of the above are things we can all do today, immediately, and they will make a difference to our planet. None of what I have suggested is extreme. I have erred on the side of ‘lazy apathy’ because I understand how life can be. I’m no different to you. Until change becomes a habit, it’s a hassle. One-step at a time is all we have time to manage during our busy lives. That’s ok. Honestly, it is.

What you will find, I bet, is that once these simple steps become part of your life, your confidence will increase in the effectiveness of one-stepping. Inspired, you’ll likely want to integrate more significant changes, and you’ll have the energy to see them through. You will have cut an essential pathway through fear-induced inactivity. Mother earth will thank you for your action.

One small step, one giant leap

While I was writing this article, a friend popped in for a visit: “What are you doing?” he asked.

I told him that I had finally reached a point where I felt that, as a writer, I needed to say something about the ‘environmental issue’ (this is not usually my topic of writing).

Then it hit me.

It occurred to me that the most important thing we can do, above and beyond what I have already suggested, and something that could finally instigate real and lasting change, is to talk about the problem.

I don’t mean for us to discuss complex reports by the IPCC, bandied around by mainstream media, but to chat about the issues, in our words, with friends during our daily lives, over a pint, a coffee (in your reusable cup) or an orange juice.

I mean to post an original post on social media- not a forwarded news report- but a personal post of what we are doing to make a difference.

I mean for amateur bloggers and vloggers to state their claim for the love of our planet on WordPress sites and Youtube channels whether they have ten or ten thousand followers.

I mean, at Sunday lunch, to take one less slice of meat and to tell the rest of the family why it matters to you.

When we regulate our actions, we will reduce the effect on our planet one step at a time. When we speak to others about it, as we would discuss the weather or the weekend sports results, then they too may join the march and help us with our mini-revolution.

If, as the scientists say, we are on our ‘final call’, the work to save our planet and ourselves must start today. There can be no more burying our head in the sand, dumbstruck by the magnitude of the task ahead.

Let’s all begin, here and now, with small steps of change that will reduce the harm we are doing to our planet. Then let’s be proud to share our efforts and inspire our friends, families and loved ones to do the same. For theirs, ours and all the world’s sake.

And, please, don’t forget to share this…


Matt Jardine is an author, writer, athlete, and teacher. He is the founder of Jardine Karate and has helped thousands of students discover their personal potential through his specially designed martial arts programs. He teaches in schools throughout London and at his Surrey venues.

Matt writes for Jiu Jitsu Style magazine, Europe’s largest Brazilian jiu-jitsu magazine, and is the author of Mo and Lucy: Choices, a top ten rated PSHE resource for school students, and The Hardest Path- a journey outside to answer the questions within (available here). He has practiced meditation and other Eastern arts for over 25 years and now lives in London with his wife and Jack Russell. He has two all grown up children.

 

 

 

 


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