Welcome to the blog of the course and textbook Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Restraint of Hope

David Suzuki writes that before we can hope to adequately tackle climate change we must internalise the fact that “we are the earth, and whatever we do to the earth, we do to ourselves [1]." Yet ‘hope’, to my mind, is not enough of a driving force for the promotion of sustainable living. It is has an air of sacrifice and persists in the idea that the way we live, with  daily power showers and avocados from Peru, is normal. In reality, living within your means, within your 1.8 hectares of a planet that you share in companion with 7 billion others, is simply what is right. This to me is the meaning of climate justice, that no other human being, present or future, should suffer due to the greedy consumption of resources that you neither need nor deserve.
Our grandparents did not live the way we do now, nor do the majority of the planet’s human inhabitants from whom we rob  the resources for a gluttonous way of life. I say ‘we’ for it is you and I, who rob resources, not ghostly governments nor ‘men in suits’, a fiction that allows us to abdicate responsibility for our contribution to climate change.
This is not to say that we should revert back to the hardship and injustice of life before the modern era, far from it. Instead I believe with David Suzuki, that the chance is at hand for “opportunity, beauty, wonder and companionship with the rest of creation”, that the human capacity for intelligence and adaptability that has brought us to this dire future will see us out of it.  Yet, practical action and change will not be driven by ‘hope’ of avoiding catastrophe but the welcome of individual responsibility to leave enough for lives after us to be lived in full and pleasant splendour.
Sinéad Mercier
[1] Suzuki, D. (2010) The Legacy: An Elder's Vision for Our Sustainable Future, Greystones Books, Canada. link

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