At this point I should say that I'm not a climate change activist. In fact if I think of climate change for more than 47 seconds I generally get to: "There is no hope, we're all doomed, I might as well just eat chocolate and watch Buffy while I still can."George said:
I find it difficult to deal with the scope of climate change and other issues which seem intractable, and require either turning round the majority of human behaviour, or abandoning it entirely and starting something else. I think this is what John was referring to when he talked about building alternatives, rather than struggling to change systems we find abhorrent. I’ve found some campaigns I’ve been involved in incredibly depressing (literally), and had to get out of activism at several times in the past to preserve my sanity. Animal rights activism was probably the worst - the sheer number of animals being killed (~50 billion) or mistreated every year defies comprehension.The one thing an activist needs is hope. Everything else: knowledge of the issues, access to a photocopier, theoretical understanding, ability to talk to people, comprehension of the world outside where you grew up that can all be found, learned or faked.
I've consciously nurtured my hope, the ten years I've worked in activism, mostly by studying history. What's happened before gives us a taste of what's possible.
That's why I reacted so strongly to George's rejection that miners might be part of the future without coal. If you don't believe in people, if you don't believe they will, can, or want to make a better world, then there can be no hope.
I'm aware that this post sounds a little bit too much like a Pete Seeger story (great man though he is), but I do think it's important. I believe that to do meaningful work you have to be driven by hope. I've known people who were driven by despair or guilt, and it goes nowhere. There's no point to any of this unless you believe another world is possible.
* Although he has inferior taste in DVDs - noticeably lacking in Joss Whedon.