environment lifestyle

somebody else’s problem

Tipping Point Or Turning Point? Social Marketing & Climate ChangeI know I’ve mentioned Ipsos Mori’s poll ‘tipping point or turning point‘ in previous posts, but it got me thinking. One of the findings, in asking about their attitudes to climate change, was that people in the UK don’t think climate change affects them.

‘45% see climate change as the most serious threat to the future wellbeing of the world’, says the report, ‘but only 19% see it as the most important issue facing Britain.’ How is that possible? Is Britain not part of the world?

The same is true on an individual level: just 9% think climate change will impact them personally, while 53% think it will affect future generations.

Is the environment doomed to become an ‘elsewhere’ cause? We can’t motivate ourselves to stop AIDS, because we don’t have it or know anyone who does. We don’t speak up for poverty, because we are not poor. We can’t let those kinds of attitudes remain on climate change, not least because we in the rich countries are the main cause of it. To refuse to take it seriously ourselves, because we don’t think we’ll be affected, is a profound injustice to the parts of the world already suffering, and to our own children.

I’m reminded of the poem by Martin Niemoller that was reprinted in Ecologist magazine recently. Niemoller was a German pastor who spoke up against the nazis and was sent to a prison camp, but spent his whole life knowing he could have done more:

First they came for the jews,
and I did not speak out
because I was not a jew.
Then they came for the communists,
and I did not speak out
because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

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