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What can I do about climate change? An evening with Pow UK and Patagonia

Do you think about the climate crisis? It’s hard not to, right? It’s talked about on the news, on social media, in our offices, in our homes, and pretty much everywhere else. It’s a noisy discussion, and there’s a lot of opinions to hear out, question, think about, agree with, or run away from…

…which is what I normally do.

I don’t mean ‘run’ literally here. I’m not sprinting out the room at any hint of debate. However, the climate crisis is a topic I don’t know a huge lot about, and when I’m not sure I understand something properly, I find it pretty difficult to enter a discussion. I’m still thinking about it. I’m just not talking about it. So, what can I do about climate change?

I separate plastics, glass and cans to recycle, I get the bus or walk into town, and I cycle to work. But then I fly to the Alps for a week, I use plastic cups at the festivals, and I eat all sorts of food from around the globe. I’d be a hypocrite if I talked about the climate crisis, right? Well, wrong. And Lauren MacCallum taught me that.

SCOTLAND AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Lauren, the general manager of Pow UK, led the Snow Activism evening in collaboration with Patagonia at the Old Dr Bell’s Baths in Edinburgh. Her evening discussed activism in all the right ways and had a profound impact on how I think, and how I’ll talk, about the climate crisis.

Free beer, two films, and two members of Frightened Rabbit were enough to make me more than interested in the evening. The space worked exceptionally well, and the instrumental accompaniment to a visual tour of the Scottish wilderness felt immersive. Even after a recent trip to Scotland’s North West, it’s easy to forget how the place looks and feels. But the film threw me back to all my favourite places in a flash. It was the perfect way to introduce the climate crisis topic to a crowd of skiers, snowboarders, climbers, mountain bikers, surfers and every outdoors-interested person. It was subtle and engaging. Lauren’s film ‘Accidental Activism’ brought things a little closer to the impact that’s happening now, in Scotland. Check it out.

ACCIDENTAL ACTIVISM BY LAUREN MACCALLUM

HOW CAN I HELP STOP CLIMATE CHANGE?

It was Lauren’s presentation that really pulled everything together. She didn’t ‘woke-splain’ (her term for lecture) the room. Instead, Lauren talked about her past and her ignorance, and her journey to realising that she wanted to be more active in the discussions about land, politics, and the environment. She was open about her upbringing and explained that, ironically, both her parents work in the North Sea oil industry. Most importantly, though, Lauren convinced me that I actually wasn’t a hypocrite.

It’s easy to feel useless in this climate crisis when we’re living on a planet that’s ruled by big industry. And it’s all too easy to doubt yourself and to allow others to pick holes in your effort to minimise your impact. Lauren is trying to get away from pointing the finger at mistakes, or shaming people, and I completely agree. Shame leads to apathy, and apathy does not lead to positive progress.

“What’s the point in doing anything if I can’t do everything?”

PROTECT OUR WINTERS UK

You shouldn’t be ashamed of the choices that you make, but you should be aware of the positive impact they can have. It is almost impossible for one person to have any significant impact on the direction of global industry. You can, however, make small changes to the way you live, and as a collective society, these small changes have a positive impact. So, what are these small changes I can make? Well, Protect Our Winters UK has some pretty straight-forward ideas you can read about here.

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CLIMATE CRISIS OR CONNECTION CRISIS?

A standout for me was Lauren’s ‘Triangle of Oh Sh*t!’. She identified quite clearly that there’s a disconnect in our collective society: within ourselves, with other people, and with our land. It’s easy to forget that we are animals with biological needs and instincts. Our responses to threat, happiness, and nourishment haven’t changed in millennia. Our government systems have been the same for centuries. But we possess god-like technology that’s developing faster than we can hope to understand. Society has never changed so quickly, and it’s difficult to remember what makes us all human sometimes.

LET’S ALL TALK ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

Lauren argues that the connection crisis is distracting us, and it’s allowing the negative effects of big industries like oil and agriculture to take hold with little resistance. The climate crisis is one of these negative effects. There is an easy solution, though. Think about these issues, learn more about the climate crisis, and don’t be afraid to talk about it.

Read more about Patagonia Action Works and POW UK.

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Photos by Grant Anderson