Hello, and brightest blessings for this fresh new year! One of the things most on my mind right now (and, actually, since I was about 7 years old) is climate change, or what is increasingly being called the climate crisis. We are in the midst of what scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction on planet earth, and the only one to be caused by human activity. Governments are still not addressing the issue of global warming, or making many real commitments to cutting carbon emissions (with the aim of slowing the warming of the planet). As usual, there is a lot of talking, faffing, and focusing on other less important issues!
Greta: Climate Warrior
Below, I’ve posted a couple of speeches by a young person who I think you’ll find very inspiring. Her name is Greta Thunberg, and she is a fifteen year old climate activist from Sweden, who is on strike from school to speak up for the climate. How amazing is that? I think young people are incredibly wise, determined and passionate. The planet needs the creative energy of the young to save the world! Greta is only a couple of years older than many of my readers, who I know are capable of so many great things. She also reminds me a little of a certain character from my Huntress books…a fierce young girl who is determined to use her voice to passionately stand up for what she knows is right. Remind you of anyone? I do love writing young characters who are defenders of the natural world.
What can we do?
One of the most important things I think we can do, in the fight for environmental justice, is to realise fully that nature is not a separate entity from ourselves, but something we are part of. We are nature. We are ‘the environment.’ We must all vow to do what we can to protect Mother Earth, because — well, do we need a reason? It feels obvious that protecting nature is right, but if we do need a reason, perhaps it is that safeguarding the earth = safeguarding our own future as a species. But we also owe it to the more vulnerable members of the global community, including the creatures who do no harm, and have no voice with which to defend themselves.
So how can we switch up our relationship with this beautiful living planet? Something I’ve noticed in myself is a knowledge gap relating to knowing the names of wild things — such as specific trees, birds and plants. Over the past year or two I’ve tried to pay more attention, and learn more about the natural world near my home. I’ve started foraging for edible plants like stinging nettles, samphire, blackberries, sloes. I’ve started learning more about which plants appear depending on the season.
My journey has only really just begun. It feels like remembering the knowings of my ancestors. I feel like even my parents grew up so much more entwined with the natural world around them. If we know nature more intimately, we can develop a stronger bond…and doesn’t that mean we will care more about the way we treat the earth? There is a stunning book that can help you re-wild your language, and get closer to nature. It’s called The Lost Words, by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. Why not order it into your local library? If you love drawing, you could even copy some of the illustrations as you learn the names of wild things.
Another thing we can do for the planet is adopt a more plant-based diet. I became a vegetarian aged 14, and this year resolved to strengthen my values further by leaning towards a vegan diet — gradually and intuitively, listening to my body and considering the sustainability of the particular food in question. I mean, an avocado might be vegan, but if it’s travelled all the way from Mexico to reach my plate then it might not be the most sustainable option!
If you or a friend/family member chooses to adopt a more sustainable diet or lifestyle, please work together to do so thoughtfully and safely. When I became vegetarian, I did so very abruptly, without learning how to safely adapt my nutritional intake, and I ended up fainting and being diagnosed with anaemia. I wholly recommend going veggie, but it should be done with far more awareness than I had — and luckily, there’s much more info around these days. It might be a conversation to have as a family, too, especially since there is much to be gained from significantly reducing our meat and dairy intake as a whole society. It doesn’t even necessarily mean total exclusion if you still want to include some meat or dairy products occasionally. This guy over on Ted Talks is what he’s calling a ‘weekday vegetarian’, for instance.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on vegetarianism, veganism, sustainability, nature, wildness or anything that you’re passionate about for 2019. How do you think we can help safeguard each other, our animal friends, and our planet? National Geographic Kids has this great climate change resource that you might find helpful, which includes top-tips for how you can be more eco-friendly at home.
For now, I’ll leave you with these awesome videos.
We hear you, Greta.
We stand with you.
We will summon the courage to demand the truth, and rebel against injustice.