Much talk has taken place in recent weeks about the threats posed by climate change and the actions that are required to address it. Just a few weeks ago our televisions were full of reports from COP26 and a multitude of programmes related to the environmental problems we face. Great news you would think. Surely evidence of changing attitudes and at last a realisation that something must be done.
But then along came the next ‘big thing’ – Christmas. With feature length TV adverts for the biggest, best, most extraordinary choice of goods you could imagine, to overwhelm the thoughts and concerns about the environment, that rose to the surface during those two weeks of COP26.
Like switching channels, we flick from one showing an environmental disaster, to others showing tables laden with food, exotic scents to make you irresistible and the latest electronic devices that you just can’t live without, all compounded by the seemingly endless Black Friday deals tempting us to buy, buy, buy.
Climate crisis? What climate crisis?
Too often we live our lives through the filter that is the nearest LED screen, whether a television, tablet or telephone. Fiction becomes blurred with reality. We can switch off the news when it becomes too real and immerse ourselves in worlds of make believe that allows us to escape from daily life.
Climate change unfortunately is real and no matter how much we would like to ignore it, it won’t go away by itself. It’s not something that fills the gap between Halloween and Christmas in the retail calendar or TV schedules, it is with us all the time and only by taking actions throughout the year will we confine it to the history books.
It is rather disappointing that the large retailers, manufacturers and perhaps even the TV companies themselves have not yet recognised that their actions are driving the excesses of the festive season, which not only create higher carbon emissions but also higher levels of spending and the worry that comes with it.
Back in the summer, we heard dire warnings from many retailers of Christmas shortages due to a lack of lorry drivers and shipping containers, made worse by the blockage of the Suez Canal. Today however those warnings seem to have all but disappeared, apart from a few suggestions that we may need to endure less choice this year. Well perhaps that is not such a bad thing. Just take a look at all the extra items that stock the shelves at this time of year, how many do we really need? The more choice we are given the greater the amount of needless energy wasted in producing mountains of goods, which have little if any lasting value, much of it destined for the waste bin.
Less choice doesn’t mean less fun, but it does mean less waste and fewer carbon emissions.
All the posturing and negotiations of COP26, seem to have had little impact on our attitude to the excesses of the festive season. Life goes on! But if we are to really make progress in stopping this looming environmental crisis, we must put climate action at the heart of our daily lives, not consign it to one or two weeks a year.