Earlier this year Kate Black (not the person in the picture) wrote an article in Masionneuve about what’s it like to feel alone against the world. For years people have been showing up to rallies, writing letters, signing campaigns, and more, but nothing seems to change. That’s how climate activists have been feeling for decades and it wears people out. After all, going against the richest corporations on the planet is no small task. Black wrote about the efforts of Nestar Russell as a way to capture the feelings of inadequacies and frustration that many climate champions feel. It’s worth acknowledging the emotional toll on activist so we can better learn how not to burn out.
The climate strike is tomorrow and you should join in to, at the very least, provide a confidence boost to those of us that need it. The worst thing that can happen is that the world gets a little better.
Several news outlets and well-intentioned bloggers responded to the depressing onslaught by publishing steps normal people can take to reduce their carbon footprint, like taking public transit or eating less meat. People on the internet didn’t like this either, and with reason. The individual steps, no matter how drastic, seem impossibly small when compared to the toll taken by massive corporations. Two leading climate research institutes report that 70 percent of industrial greenhouse gas emissions created since 1988 can be traced back to no more than one hundred fossil fuel companies.
Most people do seem to want to do something about the environment. A 2015 report found that 73 percent of millennials are willing to spend more on a brand if it’s “sustainable,” whatever that means. It’s no surprise that every company seems to be greenwashing itself—trying to look carbon-conscious without actually doing anything meaningful, like how Starbucks is phasing out newly unpopular plastic straws with sippy-cup lids that use even more plastic than the straws they replace.
Of course, the planet doesn’t have time for ineffective, small changes anymore, let alone corporate greenwashing. “It’s becoming clear that we don’t have the luxury of slowly wading into the shallow end,” Wynes says. He is also wary of what he calls “techno-optimism,” the idea that new inventions like electric cars and planes are going to “bail us out.” It could be years before an electric plane is efficient enough to make long flights.