About ten years ago on Christmas afternoon some some friends of my dad popped in for a visit. They sat at the kitchen table chatting while I made hot drinks. Then one of them opined that ‘all this climate change stuff is crap’.
I said it wasn’t and we had a low-quality ‘debate’ about it. He was very set in his views and so was I. The whole conversation probably lasted less than five minutes. It ended when my dad came into the kitchen to ‘rescue’ me, claiming that he needed my help elsewhere. I followed him to the lounge room and discovered that the rest of our Christmas guests had been listening and were most amused. ‘We agree with you!’ they said, laughing. ‘Fight the good fight!’ It was very funny.
I felt like a big dag. I knew I’d been inarticulate and I might have sounded upset. All the lounge room people (who were the guests I actually liked) thought I’d wasted my time arguing with an old bloke who was never going to change his mind and probably not going to live long enough to find out he was wrong.
I felt silly for arguing and wished I’d just left the room when he started talking abut how the climate has always changed. I could have rolled my eyes with people who agreed with me and played a stress-free game of Ticket to Ride.
After that, I didn’t really talk about climate change. I assumed everyone sensible believed human activity was causing rising temperatures. I silently hoped that leaders would take the issue seriously and do something to reduce emissions.
They didn’t. Some of them tried, but it didn’t work out. And now it’s not a problem for the future, it’s a crisis for now.
These days I still don’t want to talk about climate change, but I do. Sometimes I feel like I’m on my own in the kitchen, inarticulate and futile. But if you’re listening, don’t try to rescue me, join in.