Climate change: facing our fears

I’m writing this as Europe is in the grips of a terrible heatwave that’s just broken the 40 degree record here in the UK. I would never wish this unbearable and often deadly weather on anyone but it’s making people talk. It’s making people wonder. Could this be connected to the way we live on planet earth?

Why does it have to take these incredible extreme weather events to make people see that the climate & ecological emergency is real?

I’ve been an environmental activist since 2009. I was a political activist and local councillor then finding I was disillusioned with party politics, moved on to join Extinction Rebellion (XR) nearly four years ago believing that non-violent direct action was the only way to literally wake people up!

I know XR made a difference but I think I’ve come to realise that only this – the extreme weather events affecting people today here in the UK will ultimately start to shake us from our apathy, fear and denial.

So where does that leave us. What do we do with our fears, how do we cope with our anxiety and how do we grieve for the things we are losing and deal with change like we’ve never known.

This is now where my own personal journey has taken me. To help with the collective fear, the anxiety and the loss – I’ve spent the last 6 years moving towards a place where I can be best equipped to help others – as a psychotherapist. I believe we are in an incredible time of transition and one where all of us will be expected to step up and play our part.

I’m still an activist, still a campaigner. You’ll still see me urging you to find ways to do things about climate change. Transition from your car to a healthier, cheaper and less polluting car free life. Pledge to be flight free and cut out meat and dairy. Avoid fast fashion, stop buying useless crap produced using more fossil fuels and shipped across the world and switch your energy provider and bank account to ones that do not fund fossil fuels and other basically criminal stuff like supplying arms to countries waging wars. Shop ethically and locally and grow your own food if you can.

And finally and most importantly – become an activist yourself. Be the change. Tell others that you ARE the change and that they can be too. Post flight free pledges on your social media, invite your non vegan friends to a vegan supper, offer to share or give a friend a trial run on your electric bike. Organise a clothes swap, create a community garden or set up a local climate cafe or tiny house project like we have here in Exeter. The ideas and opportunities are literally endless. Find or create something you are passionate about.

You have the potential to literally change the course of humanity. You can stand at this crossroads right now and take the road where you give up or turn away or… embrace your fears and uncertainties and be part of a new way of being – a brand new future. A way that opens you up to such connection and love like you have never known. The complete antidote to despair. Which route will you choose?

If you are struggling with feelings of anxiety, grief or despair connected with climate change and biodiversity loss you can get support from the Climate Psychology Alliance.

Don’t forget you can add your comments on this article below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Supporting our youth climate strikers

My 17 year old daughter has been attending youth climate strikes since they started here in Exeter in February and I’ve been to a few too and next week – on September 20th, we will be attending the largest one so far in the city. Over 2000 people are expected to attend. My son is almost 14 and has asked to come to this one – his first. Here’s the letter I’ve just sent to his school and here’s the event link if you want to know more


Dear (Headteacher)

We give my permission for our child – to not attend school on Friday 20th September; in order to attend the Youth Strike 4 Climate (Global Climate Strike) protest taking place across the UK and many other countries on that day. You might be aware that there are over 106 countries taking part in this historic event across all the continents of the globe. This is the link to the Exeter protest expecting over 2000 people – the largest ever climate protest in this city
We are aware of UK law that permits parents to only give permission for their child to miss school on medical grounds or in a few other cases, one of which is under “exceptional circumstances”.
Our view is that having only 11 years left to cut CO2 emissions by 50%, as per the latest UN IPCC report, are terrible and exceptional circumstances to find ourselves in. The news of late of wildfires burning in the precious Amazon and the Artic, plus our ice-caps and glaciers melting much faster than expected and insect numbers plummetting are all signs we need to heed and act upon. Therefore we will be attending this event with our son and give him full permission to protest against our government’s inaction.
We hope attending this demonstration will help our son to feel empowered and learn about standing up for what is right in this world, something I know is embedded in the philosophy of the school our son chose to attend. Attending this protest is part of active civic engagement which is a core part of every school curriculum. As the climate catastrophe is going to affect our children more than us, it is so important we support them in this kind of action.
We respect his decision to attend this protest and I hope you will support him too.
Kindest wishes
Sharon & Dan Pavey