Look After Your Planet…

Warren Draper talks about the changes that have happened to the planet, such as climate change and global warming. 

Words: Warren Draper

Photography: A view of the Earth from Apollo

I was deciding between two options for titles for this piece. I went with the softer one. The other was “Its not easy being green… but its better than being extinct”.

Make no mistake, we are living in dangerous times and dangerous, panic-ridden headlines are not only highly tempting, but will become more frequent over the next few years. Only the scientifically illiterate and people in the pay of polluters and oil companies are denying climate change these days. The vast majority of scientists and the ecologically aware have been warning about the problems we now face for decades. Which is part of the problem. We’ve placed ourselves in a typical ‘cry wolf’ situation where climate deniers can say: “You were saying this 30 years ago and we’re still here!”

The truth is that the predictions were not only accurate, but, in many cases, they vastly underestimated the speed of climate change. I have been on the frontline of ecological resistance for most of my life. I remember telling people that they should “think of their grandchildren”. It wasn’t long before I had to revise this line to “think of your children”. And now the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading scientific authority on man-made global warming, tells us that if we don’t act immediately to halt carbon emissions, we will reach the significant rise in global temperatures of 1.5% by 2030. Less than twelve years from now. Given that timescale, it is very much a question of “think about yourself!”

A degree or two might not sound like much, but it will mean that the crazy global weather we are experiencing lately will be remembered as the good old days. Sun lovers might think that more summers like the ones we’ve just had is a good thing. Farmers will disagree, but it is also unlikely that we will enjoy them once the Gulf Stream has been affected. The Gulf Stream is a channel of warm water flowing across the Atlantic from the Gulf Of Mexico to warm our own waters. It only thing which stops us living in a climate more akin to Iceland’s. Iceland is very nice. Just right for a population of 350,000 people. But 65,000,000 people living in a subartic UK will not find things so easy.

We don’t even have to look to the future to find the doom and gloom. The UK has lost 75% of its flying insect mass in just 27 years. This is due to a number of man-made factors, including habitat loss, pesticides, car culture and climate change. Globally we have lost 50% of species in just 40 years for much the same reasons. We are living through the sixth mass extinction event in the natural history of our planet. As quick and as devastating as the extinction event which ended the reign of the dinosaurs, only this time we – you and me – are the asteroid colliding with Earth. Even if you don’t have a soft spot for the already endangered polar bear, going beyond the 1.5% rise in global temperatures will see the loss of species such as Theobroma cacao, the plant that gives us cocoa beans. Yes, that’s right, chocolate is in danger of becoming extinct. So why, given that we’re up Poo Poo Creek with a bunch of nutters in charge of the paddle,
would I go for the softer headline?

Because there is hope. Where there is genuine care, empathy and love, there is always hope.Doncopolitan is often criticised for being ‘too positive’. But humans are a story-driven animal. We shape the world with the stories we tell ourselves. I’m not on Facebook, but I’ve heard about the Clean Up Donny campaign, where well-meaning people are spreading horror stories about our town centre. I know that the people on that page are genuinely concerned, but the (ill-informed, often grossly exaggerated, sometimes even false…) negative stories about the town centre are as damaging as the spice users, beggars and litter they like to point the finger at. Yes, Doncaster has problems. Most towns do. But I have spoken to a number of people from the town centre business community who say that trade and footfall was more heavily affected by the doom and gloom stories than it was by the actual problems we share with towns throughout Austerity Britain.

Perception is everything. If we tell ourselves that we’re poor with no prospects and no future, that is what we will get. But it we decide to stop moaning and count our blessings – reminding ourselves of the fact that we live in a peri-urban paradise with fertile land, one of the best climates in the north of England, with warm, welcoming people and a rich, inventive heritage – then we can begin to change the narrative. Something which Doncopolitan has been banging on about for years.

We’re not talking from a high-horse or from a position of privilege. Doncopolitan is not created by a wealthy, well-resourced organisation. We’re just Donny folk who see things a little differently. More importantly, we live a little differently too. None of what we do would be possible if our main focus was getting a bigger house, bigger car and an endless supply of gadgets and bling. Yes, we’ve got next to nowt, but we never feel ‘poor’. Yes, we’d like more money, but only to make it easier to do even more cool, creative and positive things in Donny (hint, hint). But the truth is that we live happier, greener, more creative, more rewarding and freer lives because we live more simply, with more control over everything we do. If climate change is the big bad wolf, then culture change is our happy ever after.

So, if you love this mad, amazing planet like we love this mad, amazing planet, why not join us? We don’t do doom and gloom. We do slow living; we do the local economy; we do artisanal attitude; we do ‘grow your own’ and urban farming; we do communal cooking and eating; we do live art and music. We use less energy; watch less TV; buy less tat; and tread more carefully. And we have a bloody good time doing (and not doing…) it. All together now…

“Culture change, not climate change…
Culture change, not climate change…”

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