Mother Earth’s Day
Dear elected members of parliament,
I am writing to you because my concerns are keeping me awake at night.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, a few nights ago I met up with some close friends to have some “time off” from our lives as busy working mums of toddlers. During our night out I couldn’t stop myself from bringing the conversation to a dark place – by sharing my worries about climate change. My friends listened, but they also felt attacked and judged. I wanted to know why they did not appear to care as much as I did? Why, as mothers, do they not lie awake at night thinking about the precarious future of our children? They made me realise that the weight of the world does not just fall on my shoulders. My own attempts to live in an eco-friendly life have not made family life easier. We recycle everything we can; eat almost entirely vegan; attempt to make all food ourselves to avoid unnecessary packaging; buy as much organic produce as possible; we only use washable and biodegradable nappies and baby wipes; have switched to bamboo toothbrushes and recycled toilet paper; and I now wash out plastic sandwich bags and cling film to use again. These miniscule choices take much more effort, time and money. But these options are not accessible to most families, nor are they enough to make much difference to the risks we face in terms of the climate crisis. Beyond the home, my husband and I have both made efforts to bring climate awareness into our workplaces and try every day to raise the public consciousness. But still most people around me appear oblivious to the issue, or admit that they are purposefully avoiding educating themselves on the matter due to fear.
Despite the hope that has come from recent climate strikes, my climate fears have been amplified by the aftermath of cyclone Idai. Sadly, among the embarrassing mess that is Brexit, this event barely made the UK press. With over 800 people dead, this latest disaster destroyed entire communities, and ruined thousands of lives. Apparently 50% of casualties are children. As you read this, I want you to actually process that information, rather than skim over it as another statistic. Hundreds of children, drowned, injured, homes destroyed, families separated, mothers who have watched their children be taken from them. Cyclone Idai is just one example of the injustices that people in the Global South face despite being the least responsible for the raising temperatures of our planet. I am certain, that if this had happened in the UK, it not only would have been front page news – it would trigger unprecedented political change. Well the time for that change is now.
For too long has the responsibility of climate action been presented as a matter of individual choice – and while I do believe that each person has an obligation to make small changes that will help reduce their carbon footprint – it is out of our hands now. Perhaps you are not up to date with the urgency of the situation, but the window for preventing the over-heating of the earth is narrowing. We have to undo hundreds of years of bad choices with a few years of good choices. This cannot wait. It is unacceptable that the children of this world are the ones who have to take control of their own futures, let alone that most adults in power refuse to listen or change. The political response to the climate crisis is pitiful, and the Paris agreement will not make any difference to our fate in the time suggested. Banning single-use plastic is nice, but it is not enough, and it is the quick and easy option. Governments need to address the primary causes and find extreme solutions. You need to vow to plant more trees and stop destroying the rainforests. You need to acknowledge that the way we produce food globally is having a detrimental effect on our eco-systems. You need to address the relationship between dirty energy and rising temperatures. You need to instil tighter legislation on industries that are producing producing producing before people can stop consuming consuming consuming. You should hold companies accountable for pumping fuel into our skies, waste into our seas, and chemicals into our food. It is you that should lie awake at night wondering if the next generation actually have a world to live in, not me.
I am sending this letter to all elected MPs and MSPs, and I want you to put this issue to the forefront of your minds and your agendas. As powerful figures you need to start making changes in your own lives to set an example. I want to see you struggle to live in a more eco-friendly way. I want you to give up eating meat and dairy, I want you to refuse to fly when you can get the train. And I want you to tell the public that you are making these changes because you care. Brexit is both a disgrace and a distraction to the global chaos that we face as humans of this world.
You need to wake up.
Now I’m going back to bed.