Making a difference – every little helps

Why doing what little we can is not hypocrisy 

Did you drive here?

Do you have a TV?

A well-known TV presenter was barking these questions at an unfortunate campaigner who had come to the studio to explain why the very serious climate situation merited drastic action. The campaigner was avoiding answering these questions as it seemed that any such admission would lead to the bingo call ’HYPOCRITE!’ swiftly followed by ‘END OF DISCUSSION – GAME OVER!’ 

If this lady does have a TV at home does that make her a hypocrite and deny her the right to speak about climate change? Or mean that there is no such thing as climate change? Does it mean that to draw attention to our plight you should live on berries under a hemp shelter in a wood? 

Of course not. But does that make anyone who lives a ‘normal’ life and speaks of climate change hypocritical?

I have a modest modern house on an estate with a practical petrol car parked outside. I was lucky to have solar panels installed on my roof and a heat-pump instead of a gas boiler. Sadly, my funds have not yet stretched to an electric car. When I can, I buy local produce from farm shops and avoid plastic wrapping. At other times it is more convenient to get my favourite pears, potentially well-travelled, in a plastic bag from a local shop. ‘HYPOCRITE!’ I hear them cry.

Would it not be more useful for them to make some small changes to their own lives and lobby the government to do their part? 

No-one should be cold in their own home. But everyone can check that their insulation is up to scratch and investigate solar panel and heat pump options, such as the recent ‘Solar Together’ supported by Hampshire County Council. One of the major issues is that UK housing regulations are still too lax and, despite the new regulations due to be introduced in 2025, planning departments are still passing and builders still installing heating systems powered by fossil fuels. When all dwellings are finally of a proper eco-friendly standard, huge carbon savings will be made, as well as cost savings. 

But should we wait till 2025?  We can all turn the thermostat down by one degree and wear an extra jumper in the winter months.  And we can exercise our democratic rights by voting for the candidate who promises to do the most to halt climate change.

Meeting our climate targets will be costly, but much less so than allowing business as usual to prevail. Government at all levels must factor in environmental impact for every decision made, but individuals can already play their part.

In the end normal life should be sustainable, houses built to decent standards, excellent public transport systems be the norm. No-one should be called a hypocrite or be a martyr to the new order.  We can’t do everything, but we have to start somewhere and everyone can do their bit.  To quote Greta Thunberg ‘Everyone counts.  We might think there’s no point an individual making changes, so we don’t do anything.  But we need everyone.  So, no step in the right direction is too small.’

Philippa Brealey,

ACAN Trustee