By Esther Michelsen Kjeldahl
It feels absurd having had this good calm day of writing, drinking coffee,
speaking on the phone and going to the gym whilst the Amazon has been
in flames. I imagine many people have lost their homes forever and that
even more animals have died. But I don’t even know very well all of this is happening. My biggest issue today was that some idiot destroyed the front wheel of a bike that I borrowed from a guy who is repairing my real bike. I’m lying calmly in my bed reading about the wildfires. So calm and passive, while something so violent is happening somewhere far away. It is strangely sickening to feel protected from all the violence, death and misery in the world. But the fact is that we’re not protected from it. It’s already here and will manifest itself in many ways very soon.
Many of us have so much just by default. We need to use our privileges
to fight the global climate crisis through political climate activism. We need
to do whatever we can to push for policies that will lead to a significant
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, we have to demand that no meat and dairy is served in our public institutions from 2020 and onward; that our government plants trees everywhere and phases out meat
production as quickly as possible; that no more oil is extracted from the
North Sea; that the government stops accepting the use of concrete in
construction and starts building using timber instead; and that the EU invests in high-speed trains between capitals so there is a rational alternative to flying.
Everyone needs to join this fight because otherwise we’re heading for the
end of the world.
Think about how quickly we could transition to a zero emission society if
every resourceful person in this country started demanding radical emissions reducing policies. There is so much to do on so many levels. But we need to start moving now. It’s not enough to just recycle some stuff and ride a bike. We need radical structural changes and we need them now. These changes won’t be implemented unless we start demanding them.
Written on August 22, 2019
Photo credit: Raging fire in Tocantins state. Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock.
About the author
Esther Michelsen Kjeldahl: I am currently studying an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I finished my BA in Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen in June 2018. While studying in Copenhagen, I worked as a student assistant at the interdisciplinary Center for Information and Bubble Studies located at the University of Copenhagen. The research center, led by Prof. Vincent F. Hendricks, is specialized in formalizing and investigating how various social psychological phenomena can lead to harmful outcomes online and offline. Prof. Hendricks supervised me on my dissertation and was the one who gave me the brilliant idea to study the impact of social norms on our climate behavior. A revised version of my dissertation, co-authored by Prof. Hendricks, was published in November 2018 (see recommended reading below).
Kjeldahl, E. M., & Hendricks, V. F. (2018). The sense of social influence: pluralistic ignorance in climate change. EMBO Reports, 19 (10). https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.201847185