02 August 2022

solutions, solutions, solutions

If you're worried that it's too late to do anything about climate change and we should all just give up, I have great news for you: that day is not coming in your lifetime. As long as you have breath in your body, you will have work to do.

Mary Annaïse Heglar

It's really hot again, the bits of lawn we have left between the flower beds and trees are brown and yellow. Lawn will recover first, I know that, but it looks and feels so bare and brittle. We water as little as possible, mostly with the newfangled drip feeding system R installed earlier this year. The insects love it and sit all along the route. In the morning and evening, when the birds have had their wash, the bees and wasps and all their friends as well as the very small number of butterflies come to the birdbath for a drink. The hedgehog shuffles along after dark to his water bowl. The upstairs bedroom windows are shaded by an almond tree which has been dropping its leaves for the past month but before the sun reaches that part of the house and while I have the windows open, birds sit in it and the robins and some young female blackbirds have started to have a quick look inside, even hopping on the inside window sill possibly for some cooler temps.

We are taking stock for a drought garden future, making lists of what will have to go, what will be replaced with what next year. 

My father has recovered from his second bout of covid and seemingly has decided to stay in bed from now on. He sounds quite content that way but some of my family are quite angry and find it selfish and lazy. Also, if it escalates it could seriously mess up the holiday travel plans of some. My family is so full of surprises.

Back to the reality: There is this fallacy that keeps on coming up. All that talk about how it's too late anyway, that humankind is doomed and people are just stupid and will not change their ways etc. etc. Usually, this is expressed with dramatic sadness and, especially by people of my age set, that tiny bit of relief because we are too old anyway and we know it all. 

I am so sick and tired of it. The way we paralyze ourselves with words because what the heck, giving up meat, flying, driving, all our lovely consumer rituals is much too hard.

So I ask myself: Who do I want to be in this world that is about to ruin itself? Do I want to be someone who carries on with a thousand excuses? Are my life's luxuries more important than my children? Do I want to live in constant and increasing contradiction to my values? - Or should I at least act as if I could contribute to a better future, regardless of whether that future actually happens?

Here is my to-do list, pick at least one that you can do. Sorry, it does not include recycling or plastic waste. It's based on the recommendations of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change):

  • Switch so renewable energy sources, even rural peasant farmers in Asia and Africa use solar panels.
  • Conserve and restore forests and ecosystems  (hint: gardens are ecosystems too).
  • Use (and if possible grow) climate-friendly food.
  • Eat much much less meat. In fact, a plant-based diet can save up to 50 percent of a person's greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Define happiness and satisfaction other than through faster, higher, further and ever more.
  • Have hope. Help each other. Love our planet.

This figure is from: IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (for personal, non-commercial usages, reproduction of limited number of figures or short excerpts of IPCC material is authorized free of charge and without formal written permission).


  1. I can commit to the last four statements. The chart was well beyond my education just in terms that were being used. But thanks for giving me info on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

  2. We're doing what you do in the garden. We have a drip system. We no longer have any grass. We think about solar panels, but aren't sure if we should proceed here in this house. Maybe a move to a better south-facing home would work. We don't eat any meat (I haven't for more than a half century!). I love the last on the to-do-list. Yes. We're all in this together on our one and only beautiful planet.

  3. I'm growing some food and we are in the process of switching over to clover, instead of grass because it's drought tolerant and way prettier. It's easy to lose hope though.

  4. Knowing what I CAN do is a good place for my focus. Knowing that I am not alone in doing what I do is another good focus. Thank you for the IPCC recommendations.

  5. My sons in their early twenties who've just gotten through and continue to deal with the pandamnic, keep me hopeful. My teenaged students do as well. There might be a whole lot of anxiety in them, but I actually have faith in their resilience. I rarely feel hopeless -- exhausted, but not hopeless. I like your list and the reminders. Thank you!

  6. I love the description of all your little garden visitors, especially the hedgehog shuffling to his water bowl! We do what we can here also. Got the panels, grow as many vegetables as we can (not so much in summer's heat though), eat less meat, define happiness through simple things and try to stay hopeful.

  7. We do what we can here though I need to start growing food again. I'd like to get solar but we are surrounded by trees. We've reduced our meat consumption by about ⅓ at least, maybe half, over the last year or two. This morning I changed the thermostat to 79˚ from our usual 78˚. As a self employed artist raising a family I learned long ago that stuff is not what makes for happiness...less is more and be here now...have been guiding principles.

  8. I try to do my part. I also try to believe in the next generation. Ours chose to be ostriches. I believe in the smart, creative people coming up behind us. Still, I will do my what I can.

  9. I found this conversation helpful too: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/a-weird-wonderful-conversation-with-kim-stanley-robinson/id1548604447?i=1000569994576

    Both Ezra and Kim are more hopeful now than they were in the past about our chances to fix climate.

  10. You are right. Cynicism is a copout.

  11. Never give up! Just keeping doing what I can and more and more people are doing the same I believe. Even our U.S. Congress, at least that necessary majority, seems to finally be getting some legislation through. Hope it makes it to the President for his signature.

  12. We all have to do what we can, while balancing the needs of our families and modern life. It's definitely walking a line. (I'm thinking about the fact that I've flown to the states, but we need to travel to see family now and then, right?) I think the single biggest thing humanity could do to benefit the planet is have fewer children, but we seem incapable of that as a species. And of course that solution carries its own social and economic difficulties.