A couple of weeks ago some of us helped to spell out a human sign in the Alexandra Gardens. Thousands of people dressed in red made up two words – CLIMATE EMERGENCY. Where is this emergency you might ask? Surely an over-statement, from a bunch of self-interested crackpots, loonies with little connection to the rest of us.

But there I was, sane and sensible, along with thousands of others like me. So what has got us ordinary people worked up enough to be signing emergency when things appear to be chugging along pretty much the same really?

Well, the problem is that when you really take a good look, the impact of climate change is turning out to be significantly greater and faster than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. The rate of the melting of polar ice and Greenland ice, as well as mountain ice is well beyond that expected at the current .8 degree rise in temperature that we have experienced so far. Extreme weather patterns are becoming the norm world-wide. So with a prediction of at least a 2 degrees rise within a few decades, the impact associated with increased greenhouse gas means we will be facing changes we can’t even imagine properly, ones that can’t be reversed. The kinds of actions necessary to halt the ever-rising levels of greenhouse gas driving this rise, (and don’t try wriggling out of that one – the science leaves you no-where to go,) are of a magnitude and speed that is associated with the word emergency.

And yet there is a kind of disconnect between our day-to-day lives – business as usual – and this fear that we are living on borrowed time here. We are suspended in a false state of calm by doing our little bit, while watching the governments – federal, state and local – squander opportunities to pull back the levels of emission this country is continuing to make. Do they realise what they are doing? What is really going on here?

That is why we get together in Lighter Footprints – to get to the bottom of questions that have us puzzled; to pull together researched submissions that focus on the sorts of things our governments should be acting upon; to work together on local projects that address our household efficiencies and reduce our own consumption of energy from the mindless patterns to which we had become accustomed; to go on marches and sign petitions and spell out words in parks. We have to do something.

Trouble is, the more you look at the size of what has to be done, the more you want to get radical; to rattle politicians till they look beyond immediate vote-catching to being leaders; and the more you want to throttle those who give false hope through ignorance. Whatever happened to the ordinary nice people we used to be?

That’s what understanding that this is an emergency does to you. You become an activist, a loony, even in the nicest suburbs.

Carolyn Ingvarson
Lighter Footprints