Climate Change: Feel The Fear

As part of my seven “Share The Magic” articles that share my feelings around climate change, I have decided that I would start with the emotion of FEAR, which feels fitting because it was actually fear that almost stopped me from writing this week. Fear of judgement. Fear of rejection. Fear of people “unfriending me” for banging on about this climate stuff too much. Fear of facing the truth myself.

And even as I write this, I can feel it rising in my body. The heart-beat skipping when I think of pressing the “publish” button. That nervous few hours while you wait to see if anyone has read it. Liked it? Commented? What if there are trolls or haters? But I press on anyway. Because I must.

Climate change and global warming have always been on my radar, or at least since I was a teenager who learnt about it in science class at school. But it always felt like some far-off problem. Something that generations of humans waaaayyy off into the future would have to face. We had time to fix it…I thought. Yeah, it was happening – the science was clear – but it was centuries away from being a problem, wasn’t it?

Then one fateful night, about six months ago, I read THAT IPCC report. (Side note – for those of you who are about to shut off because I used an acronym or mentioned the word “report”, please don’t – it is so important that you hear this!) The IPCC is basically a fancy name for a group of scientists getting together to talk about climate change and how well we are handling things.

If you haven’t read the report yet, basically the answer is “we’re not”. We have less than 12 years, 11 now, to make radical changes to the way we live, or we simply cannot stop the freight train – the Earth will become more and more uninhabitable until all life is wiped out. And that could happen a LOT quicker than we expect. Our children could end up facing a lot of the consequences of a barren planet. Like this terror-inducing post by Marc Doll points out, it is actually much, much worse than the IPCC says it is. Honestly, once you go down the climate change rabbit-hole, it is utterly terrifying.

When I first read the report, it was like my whole world had already ended. I felt my stomach lurch and my heart start pounding out of my chest so fast that I thought it might explode. I felt sick to my stomach and lay there weeping at what humanity had done. It was what inspired me to write THIS poem: The Monster In My Room – which likens climate change to a monster that we are too afraid to look at in the night.

I fell into that rabbit-hole and wallowed in despair for several months. I found myself lying awake every night scrolling, endlessly wading through Facebook and Twitter, and reading article after article about climate change. Note to self – do not read the comments on environmental Facebook posts. There is some seriously dark content there. A lot of people have completely lost hope.

My whole night was spent searching, trying to find just one positive post in the sea of negativity, just so that I could relax enough to go to sleep. To take the edge off the terror.

I was afraid of our world getting hotter. Terrified about what horrors my children might face in the future: famine, sea levels rising, extreme heat/cold, climate wars as countries scramble to fight over territories, uncontrollable spread of diseases, water shortages…the list goes on and on.

I am still terrified for my children’s future now, and for my future, and for all life on our beautiful Mother Earth. It continues to keep me up some nights when another particularly scary article gets published.

As the UK seemed to rejoice at the summer weather last month, I was mortified – could I be the only person who thought that it wasn’t normal to have 20 degree heat and daffodils sprouting in early February?! Was this the beginning of the end? Every time I heard the phrase “lovely weather we’re having”, I felt like I had to clamp down on my tongue to stop myself from talking, or face becoming a bit of a social pariah. THAT person who bores everyone moaning about the environment.

But here’s the thing about fear. It can paralyse us into doing nothing if we let ourselves sit there for too long. It is much easier when faced with fear to just ignore it and do nothing. To block those friends who share articles about climate change, or un-follow those environmental Facebook pages. Or convince yourself that the one article that you read about “that climate change hoax” was actually the truth and 97% of climate scientists were wrong or liars.

Fear can turn us into ostriches, or, if we choose, it can be the spark that sets us into action to creating a new world. I don’t believe that we can reverse all of the effects of global warming now. We have done too much damage already, and I think we have some very difficult years ahead, but the sooner we feel the fear and DO SOMETHING ANYWAY, the more likely we are to create that green-filled, community-based utopia that I see in my dreams.

Because these days, my goal-setting is less personal than collective. I don’t really care how many zeros I earn in a year, or whether we can get a new car with fancy gadgets. I am like the Eagle – soaring above the world surveying the bigger picture, but simultaneously staying laser-focused on that vision. An Earth robed in green. Communities living off and with the land – cooking and thriving together. A life that is abundant AND sustainable, and where greed, corruption and toxic behaviour are a thing of the past. A future where life on Earth HAS a future. That is the only goal that I am interested in these days. That is my vision.

I know that you are afraid as you read this – if your fear has even let you read this far. I feel that fear too believe me. I am terrified. Part of me is to afraid to try, because what happens if we fail? What if we don’t change our ways in time? What does the future look like then? Some days, I am just so frightened that all I can do is weep.

And some days, when the fear gets too much to bear, I take myself off into nature on my own Climate Change Fearto be with the trees. Sitting at the roots, with my back pressed against a huge oak tree, feeling the support as it holds my weight and almost pushes back on me, telling me it feels my fear too. Feeling the wind in my hair and the soles of my feet rooted into the ground. Standing out there, open and receptive – I can feel our world trying to connect with me. Sometimes, if I listen really carefully, I can almost hear the whisper back from the trees, carried on the wind from their leaves – like a soft voice sliding into my ear. “You can do it. You do make a difference. Help me look after my babies and I will look after yours.”

So, dear reader, this is my invitation. Take my hand, and the hand of your brothers and sisters beside you, and let’s go face this fear head on and do something about this mess. Because fear can only control us if we let it. Instead, let’s start with looking fear straight in the eye and seeing it. Feeling it. Embracing it.

And then we can harness the collective power and let fear motivate us into crafting our own vision of a new world.

Who’s with me?

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The Monster In My Room

There’s a monster lurking in my room.
I can’t bear to turn around.
Just there…in the corner of my eye. 
I mustn’t make a sound.

There’s a monster prowling in my room,
That I’m trying to ignore.
But it takes up so much space.
Creeping up to roof from floor.

There’s a monster biting in my room.
I wish someone could save me.
But it also lurks inside their house,
If only they could see.

Maybe if I just don’t look,
The monster will leave me.
Someone else can deal with him,
And I can run and flee.

I feel the monster moving now,
Heading for my babies’ rooms.
I promised them I’d keep them safe –
Yet here the danger looms.

And whilst our generation may escape
The monster’s full attack.
Our children will most certainly
End up taking all the flak.

There is only one way to defeat
The monster that waits there.
We have to look it in the eye
And show how much we care.

Accept that we have put him there
And through our actions made him grow.
We have to grieve and shed the tears –
Let those healing waters flow.

Then when all the tears are done –
And there will be a few –
We’ll roll up our sleeves and face this mess
The way that humans do.

Together arm-in-arm we stand
Against that monster grim.
With kindness, love and empathy
We can challenge him.

And when we stop to really look
At the darkness up above,
We’ll see there’s no monster after all.
Just a world in desperate need of love.

By Sarah Claire Ryan

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