Change is always possible

Montreal Protocol

The ozone layer protects our skin from many of the harmful elements of the sun’s rays. Back in the 1980s, a huge hole in the ozone layer had opened up caused by the release of chlorofluorocarbons, chemicals widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners at that time. Chlorofluorocarbons are thousands of times more powerful than greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and they stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. 

The world came together and signed the Montreal Protocol which banned chlorofluorocarbons. The ban resulted in a phase-out of 99% of these ozone-depleting chemicals and the ozone layer has largely recovered. Humanity can work together and unified action works. 

DNA does not have to be destiny. We do not have to be victims of our impulses. Digital has wonderful potential. 

It’s not enough for any one of us to individually change. Such incredible damage has been done to the Earth in the last forty years. We need radical steps to change a culture of overconsumption. We must come together in national and global movements because that is the only way we can change the system. 

If you make the change to a less consuming life, try and get your friends and family to make the change too. Become political. Without a widespread political movement there is little hope of the systemic change we need.

3.5% change the world

3.5% of society changes society. This is the conclusion of research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University. She found that in society after society, organized non-violent disobedience by 3.5% of the population overturned dictatorships, forced governments to collapse, radically changed policies.

“Ordinary people, all the time, are engaging in pretty heroic activities that are actually changing the way [of] the world – and those deserve some notice and celebration as well,” Erica Chenoweth stated. 

The idea that we can’t change anything, that our efforts mean nothing, is simply not true. If we organize and get close to a 3.5% movement, real and substantial change is more than possible. 

Digital gives us tools of organization and networking that were historically the exclusive domain of the elites. It is no surprise that in the most repressive regimes, the first thing they do in a crisis is try and close down the Internet and the other communication networks. 

We have so much organizing and communicating power at our fingertips. We must use it to good effect.

We are always changing

We think things don’t change because we think short-term, we think in short spans of time. The further out we look the more change we see, and if we look far enough, we must surely look in wonder at the amazing adaptability of humans.

I grew up in a very small, rural community in county Longford, Ireland. As a child, one of my strongest memories was at funerals. There would be three or four shovels left at the graveside and once the priest had finished his prayers, the neighbors would start grabbing the shovels and shoveling the dirt onto the coffin. It was a sign of community and solidarity. However, to my child’s eyes, it could sometimes feel a bit like a competition, as one man grabbed the shovel from another and busied himself shoveling as much clay as possible as quickly as possible. 

I left that farming community and didn’t return for many years. It was a funeral brought me back. I found myself waiting for that moment when I would now participate in this ancient custom. At the end of the prayers, instead of grabbing shovels, two men grabbed a cover of imitation grass and pulled it over the grave. I quietly asked my brother where were the shovels? He nodded towards a small mechanical digger. 

We are always changing. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse. DNA is not destiny. We are coded to want more, to grab as much as possible because that’s what was needed to survive for millions of years. 

That which makes you strong can kill you in the end. We can and must adapt. We must retrain our gut instincts, learn that enough is enough, that less is nearly always better.

World Wide Waste

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