This week: Ade on the Frontline; Why I support malaria charities; and next week’s sustainability calendar
Welcome to the seventh issue of my sustainability newsletter Rethink Convenience weekly. Each week I introduce my latest stories, highlight the work of other sustainability advocates, and preview the week ahead to enable you to plan climate and environmental action.
This week I watched the second episode of Climate Change: Ade on the Frontline (BBC). I’m a couple of weeks behind but it was good to pick up this series again. Ade is travelling the parts of the world that suffer most from the climate crisis (Bangladesh this week), and again the personal stories he encounters deeply moved me.
However, watching this in the light of Earth Day, I feel disappointed. The documentary correctly focuses on the people affected and presents some of the innovative solutions being explored, but it never really addresses the causes of climate change. It says that planting trees is the best thing we can do to combat climate change, but realistically, we’ll never save the Earth through tree-planting¹.
The best thing we can do is to stop using fossil fuels. The BBC seems afraid to make that link for people, which is a real shame. I’m not sure why they seem reluctant to lay the blame for the current mess where it belongs (fossil fuel companies), but it leaves us with this vague impression that everything will be alright in the end. It doesn’t inspire action. We feel concerned, but we don’t feel that we need to do anything because someone “out there” is planting a trillion trees.
I decided last week that I won’t stand for bullshit any longer. I won’t tolerate greenwashing, and I won’t be quiet if people try to obscure the parts of this story that make them uncomfortable. We need to feel concerned, yes — we should feel fucking horrified — but we should channel that into real action, not sit around waiting for a technological saviour.
All that said, you should still watch this programme. The experiences of the people in Bangladesh and Bhutan (and the Solomon Islands and Australia in the previous episode) are hard, but they need to be heard. And when you’ve finished watching, you’ll want to add the prime minister of Bhutan to your list of inspirational world leaders; the guy is a legend.
The fact that one can still make a huge impact, even if you don’t have much to give really appealed to me too. I’ve been there, felt powerless to help, so this lesson was revolutionary: no matter what your circumstances, you’re not powerless.
For this reason, whenever I get to choose a charity, I will always nominate a malaria charity. The outlay is small (usually provision of mosquito nets or medicine) but the potential impact is massive: lives are literally being saved every day.
This week I’ve prepared the next monthly update for the Sustainability Calendar, which will publish tomorrow. Here’s a preview of the new direction in which I’m taking the graphics.
I wanted something that sat apart from the hand-drawn images that illustrate my regular posts, something that looked more like a regular monthly calendar and that people could see at a glance what was coming up.
What do you think? Does it work? Is it too crowded?
What I’ve consumed this week
- Article: How Can I Meaningfully Reduce My Personal Transportation Emissions? — A great article that demonstrates that you don’t have to ditch your fossil-powered car and go electric to reduce the carbon footprint associated with moving yourself around. This is very much aligned with the ethos of this publication: incremental changes are necessary and every one of us can make an impact.
- Newsletter: Green Fix by Cass Hebron — Described as “An ethical round-up for the climate-conscious in Europe and beyond”. I’ve only been signed up for a couple of issues, but I’m really enjoying it so far. It goes into a lot of depth, and is full of ways we can educate ourselves and get involved. It’s worth your time to subscribe to this one.
Saturday, 1 May:
- No Mow May starts (UK)
- National Walking Month starts (UK)
- National Clean Air Month starts (US)
- Green Up Day (Vermont, US) (first Saturday in May)
- May’s monthly round-up of the Sustainability Calendar published at Rethink Convenience
Sunday, 2 May:
- World Tuna Day
- International Dawn Chorus Day (first Sunday in May)
- National Gardening Week ends (UK)
- International Compost Awareness Week starts
- Hedgehog Awareness Week starts
Monday, 3 May:
- International Leopard Day (no link)
- Wild Koala Day (Australia)
Tuesday, 4 May:
- The release of “Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” by Suzanne Simard (note this is an affiliate link through bookshop.org to support local bookshops)
- Greenery Day (Japan)
Thursday, 6 May: Local elections in the UK (no link)
Friday, 7 May:
Saturday, 8 May:
- World Donkey Day (no link)
- World Migratory Bird Day
Sunday, 9 May: World Fairtrade Day
To view everything happening in the next 12 months, click here. The May round-up will be published tomorrow.
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¹ Put simply, there isn’t enough space to plant all the trees we would need, trees take a long time to reach maturity, and we can’t just cover all available land with a blanket forest of trees and not expect biodiversity to suffer. That’s not to say that reforestation can’t play a part in the fight against climate change, but the contribution of new woodland is far what it is made out to be.