I’d like to welcome the new members who joined in the last months, and seize the opportunity to write an update.
I’m no climate expert. I’m just a citizen, a student in the process of finishing their MSc in computer science. About a year ago, I started watching and reading things about climate change. Then I went deeper and looked at a (tiny) fragment of the research. I came out with a strong sense of urgency. This really has the potential to ruin our civilization.
Something needs to be done, but what, and by whom? Should the individuals change their lifestyle or politicians introduce global changes? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it doesn’t matter: in either case public opinion is the key. Public opinion needs to shift, or no significant change will happen. People need to know the facts and want the needed changes. And how do you make that happen? In one word: activism.
I don’t like that word. My very Swiss background is: be a peaceful citizen, try to live your life the best you can and don’t bother anyone. In my head, the word “activism” raises images of conflict, resistance, struggle, hopelessness. I’m afraid of being an activist. What I needed, is a change of perspective. Activism should not be something that frightens you, that burns you out. You shouldn’t give up your life for it.
What I advocate for is “sustainable activism”. There are some activities that we have to do regularly to keep healthy. Brushing our teeth. Working out. The world which we live in needs some maintenance to keep working. Sustainable activism is just that: a regular activity, to make sure our societal structures, our environment don’t get damaged beyond repair.
Imagine a world where everyone spends a couple of hours per week fixing what’s not going too well in our world, everyone according to their own capabilities. One reads, the other discusses. One creates a website, the other shares the posts. One creates a petition, the other signs it. One invents a new technology, the other supports it. One writes good laws, the other votes for them.
Just a couple of hours. That’s why I asked you, upon subscription to this group: how much time can you dedicate to this problem? We have to create a habit – the habit of dedicating a few hours to something beyond ourselves. You never create a habit by taking on too much at once. Start slowly, but regularly, and then get rolling.
If you decided that you want to do something, and climate change is your topic of choice, then this group is a resource for you. Every Tuesday evening there is a meeting, where you can come and learn what is happening in Zurich and your options for contributing. Last Summer and Fall we met, shared resources and points of view, organized a demonstration to support the Emergency Climate Summit in New York.
Meanwhile, a new local organization to fight climate change was created (fossil-free.ch) and we’re in close contact with the founders. We are part of a world-wide movement, led by organizations such as Avaaz.org and Gofossilfree.org. Activist Bill McKibben is an inspirational figure of this movement (google him). Recently, the Guardian started a campaign to influence the decision-making process with respect to climate change.
This year is a very important year: the UN will hold a Climate Summit in Lima, where important decisions will be taken. Those politicians need our support. Many activities will take place, world-wide and in Zurich. Be part of it.
See you this Tuesday at 20:00, Elle’n Belle, Limmatstrasse 118, Zürich.
Nicola Marcacci Rossi