As temperatures soar across India and Pakistan, I am reminded of a conversation I had last night with someone who works for the oil and gas industry (and who happens to be from the Indian subcontinent). According to this man, all NGOs - he couldn’t specify which ones or from which sector, but just made a sweeping statement of all NGOs - do not use science to back up their work, and have no merit. This man went on to attack climate activists, saying their (and my) frustration is unjustified, and he used the tired old rhetoric of climate activists being hypocrites since we too heat our homes.
I was livid and didn’t know where to begin to unpack his denial and patronization of the climate crisis. At the same time I was tired. I have been fighting this fight for too long. And, in many personal settings, telling myself or being told to stay quiet, polite and ‘know my place’. I tried to explain the root of our frustration, that scientists have been calling for a transition away from fossil fuels for decades, that the fight is not against people, and certainly not vulnerable or low income people with little to no choice, rather our fight is against the systems, governments and industry that perpetuate and thereby deepen the climate crisis. Yet I was constantly triggered by the baseless claims coming from this man.
I have two degrees from one of the world’s leading science universities. I studied the first two assessment reports of the IPCC ever to be released as part of my thesis on accelerated sea-level rise. I have spent the past almost 20 years in the NGO sector campaigning for healthy oceans, working with scientists and amplifying their message, and sounding the alarm on the climate crisis. I am not alone. Millions of us around the world are tired of being systematically ignored and belittled so that a few can continue the status quo, while stealing the future of many.
I was being mansplained to by someone who has chosen to stick his head in the sand. The climate crisis is plain for all to see, and is being experienced by too many people around the world, including millions of people on the Indian subcontinent.
I am telling this story because I need to remind myself not to give up in the face of such ignorance and contempt, and just maybe if you are reading this, you need that reminder too.
#climatecrisis #climateemergency #heatwaves #climateaction #activism #collectiveaction #dontgiveup #ecoanxiety #women4oceans #together4oceans