Individual to collective action

After my long blog post about how necessary it is for those of us in the top 20% of incomes who create 70% of C02 emissions to change our lifestyles I’ve been working on this image:

individual solutions

Sometimes I think the link is lost between the fact that individual actions to reduce climate change (like eating less meat and flying less) and the way we are going to have to live in the future in order to have any kind of habitable planet are the same. If you are fighting to reduce climate change you are (if you are in the top 10 or 20% of incomes) also fighting to reduce your current ability to fly multiple times per year for leisure as well as business. You are fighting to reduce your meat consumption. You are fighting to give up the ease of buying and having delivered within days whatever consumer item it is that you want. You are fighting to go on public transport or on your bike instead of in your car. And many of those things are very much within our (again by ‘our’ I mean those in top 10 -20% of incomes) capability to do right now, without huge changes in urban infrastructure, so what is it that is stopping us?

I thought the image could be used as a handout for people to brainstorm ideas for what they needed to be able to carry out all of these individual actions, so they could pinpoint what things they need outside help with (e.g. through government action or from the company/institution that they work for making changes) and what ideas they need to change internally – e.g. overcoming a fixation on travel as the way to find enjoyment, meaning and social capital in life. They could then focus on putting pressure on their work places and political representatives to make the changes they have identified they need and to talk with friends/family and colleagues to try to shift cultural attitudes when it comes to consumption and travel.

I had some comments back on twitter after I posted the image from people who work to reduce climate change:

I thought about how to incorporate these criticisms and updated the image with instructions, as for me talking about climate change, pressuring institutions and politicians and changing our ways of thinking are all how we make changes to our lives, not the changes we need to make (but the line between those things is obviously very blurry):


I’m trying to fill in the diagram for myself and work out what help I need to be able to take all of these actions. So far I’ve done cartoons related to trying to cut down on meat consumtpion and what I could do to reduce the carbon footprint of my job (being a housewife- I didn’t include the cartooning bit as that mainly involves me sitting in my pyjamas at my desk watching terrible T.V. on Netflix while inking a drawing and as such is fairly low carbon although it could still be improved). I will work on the other areas next…

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