Having an ‘Aha!’ moment

I met someone on the weekend and he told me what really got him to take action on climate change and peak oil. I like to think of this point in time as an ‘Aha!’ moment. That moment when you really get the magnitude of the crisis facing us. This got me thinking about these moments, are they similar for others? And how do you deal with what can be scary or depressing realisations?

For me, my ‘Aha!’ moment was several years ago, and thanks to Professor Tim Flannery. I was sitting in bed reading his book “The Weather Makers”, and it scared the sh*t out of me. I literally couldn’t sleep. I flicked to the last chapter on ‘solutions’ for some good news. But it really didn’t seem like enough.

Have you had a ‘Aha!’ moment, and what was it from?

When you’re faced with this information, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and get down. For a long time, I really didn’t know what to do. I read more and more, following the news for anything on climate change, and staggered that there wasn’t more coverage. Religiously reading the public debate in the letters to the editor from proponents and skeptics. In the end, it was a ridiculous letter from a skeptic attacking a previous well-reasoned and evidenced based letter that pushed me to do something. I wrote a response. It didn’t get published. But it was the start of my journey to take action….

This also led me to discover one of the ways of dealing with the ongoing barrage of negative climate news. Take action. Doing something helps. Even if it’s catching public transport or growing some veggies. Being in action and trying to make a difference in whatever way you can is, I think, crucial.

I’ve also found over the years that talking to other like-minded people is vital in staying sane. To give voice to your fears and frustrations. To vent those things that just seem so absurd given what’s happening to the global biosphere currently. And through this, to know that there are many others, just like you, sharing the same emotions is quite comforting.

Finally, something that’s given me hope for a long time is tipping points. The fact that change can be non-linear and things can go from one state to another in a very short space of time. While this applies soberly to Climate tipping points, what gives me hope is that it also applies to social change. Throughout history, large social change has often taken place overnight, once a tipping point or critical mass is reached. It is this tipping point which gives me hope. And I think we are all responsible for making sure we get there as soon as possible.

How do you deal with the enormity of climate change and peak oil? What gives you hope?


3 responses to “Having an ‘Aha!’ moment

  1. I very much enjoy that moment when I’m talking about what I do and why, and the person to whom I’m speaking suddenly understands s/he is also affected and similarly able to make a difference. That spark that comes into the eye. Then the questions about how – how to be effective, how to get others to understand, how to be part of the future we want to see.

  2. Thank you for this post, it has almost completely summed up my own experience! ‘The Weather Makers’ was also part of the tipping point for me, that, “The great Disruption” and “Six Degrees” were a huge wake up call. I too went through weeks of desperate frustration that no where on mainstream media are we presented with what is actually happening to us globally. Even climate change related events weren’t linked to it (like the droughts in the US where they lost masses of corn and soybean crops), if they were reported at all. I have made my own changes and continue to try to work through a long list of things i’d like to personally achieve, but even getting friends and family to listen, let alone take any action seems futile. I have been meaning to join your transition town for a while, maybe that should be my next action 🙂

  3. Thanks for the great post – very thought-provoking. I like to think back to what came after the ‘Aha’ (more like a big ‘Uh-oh….’). First there was feeling sick, nauseated, overwhelmed, doomed… and bad headaches! It was paralysing, especially in the early days after Al Gore’s movie first came out, when climate change was not being talked about much, and it was very unclear what could be done. Then I saw how unhelpful and futile that state of mind was. I figured that maybe this is the crisis that humanity has to have to shake it up and provide the momentum to begin to address far more than just climate change. That was the thought that had me start seeing the opportunities. For example, all the real solutions that people write about on the internet that address critical aspects of climate mitigation and adaptation, and all the low tech, inexpensive inventions that solve all manner of pressing problems (e.g. the Kyoto Box). Opportunity = pathway to action. Simple. And optimists are known to outlive pessimists by nearly a decade on average !

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