While I studied law I worked as an environmental volunteer in a National Park in Ireland over the summers. I loved it so much to be outdoors all day to protect the oak woods from invasive species that I realised I wanted to work with nature in daily life. I should maybe have become a veterinarian as I initially planned! Anyway, when I came back home I signed up for a course on Environmental Law. And that became a very depressing period to me: The whole environmental law system evolves around the idea of ‘pollution rights’. Companies have a right to cause a certain amount of emissions and pollution. If they don’t use their full share they can sell it to a company that needs a little bit more: tradable emission rights, the complete moral downfall of capitalism.
Strangely I found out lately that individuals think exactly the same. When talking about climate change issues people say for example that ‘because they don’t eat meat they can fly to Asia for their holidays now’. As if we also have a certain right to pollute and that we can choose how to divide that. Of course being alive causes pollution. But we can still try to keep it as low as possible. That would ask a major lifestyle change for many. I find it strange that we are not able to do that ourselves without government intervention. When I see how people are loading up their supermarket trolley’s for December feasts I lose my hope for change already….
This climate problem needs a cultural and psychological revolution. Sometimes I can’t understand why it’s so hard for people to change their own lifestyles on their own initiatives, to buy less, fly less, holiday less, change their diet. Even many people who believe the climate facts still don’t change their behaviour. We must be a very egocentric species. I hope we all can talk about it over a sober Christmas dinner to make the people around us more aware that there is no such thing as a ‘ right to pollute’ . Happy Christmas!
Yesterday I joined forces with flamenco singer Erminia Fernández Córdoba and some more musical folks during a climate demonstration in The Hague. We played a protest song she wrote to call for action. It’s great to see so many people raising awareness for the climate crisis now! We are preparing more musical activities for the upcoming Global Climate Protest 27 September….
I danced flamenco as a teenager and it was great to feel the spirit and passion behind it again in this gathering filled with Spanish music and dance. In some ways Spanish folk is similar to the Irish folk culture that I’ve become so familiar with: making music with simple acoustic instruments, clapping and stamping, and a large communal factor and a feeling of passion and rebellion involved. I loved it! Very powerful stuff!
So what we are doing now with the club of people, apart from writing suitable songs ourselves, is gathering great protest songs. I have a list already that I play during my own performances, varying from Melanie Safka’s “I don’t eat animals”, Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush”, The Kelly Family, “When the last tree has been taken”, Joan Baez’ “We will overcome”….and many more. Do you have any suggestions of good protest songs, especially about nature or climate? Please let me know! And see you 27 September ‘ on the barricades’!
There was a time when I was very idealistic. From the age of 17 I worked many summers in a national park as a volunteer to do my share for tree conservation. I graduated on a legal topic hoping to contribute to the preservation of common goods: property of our common heritage. Things that don’t belong to just one person like our bikes or cars, but areas like woods, seas and lakes that belong to us all, that should be kept in a good state….
Western society sadly isn’t based around the preservation of “common heritage”. Most of our lives we spend focussed on our individual property: saving money to buy a car, a house, the nicest of clothes, saving for expensive holidays to far away destinations. We work all of our lives because we committed to pay off a mortgage to finally become the full owner of a tiny plot of land, or an appartment in a big block of houses with other people doing the same. But with which higher goal? Or should I even say: with which entitlement? I have always found it very interesting that humans are not well able to think for the sake of all people.
In the meantime the effects of climate change are really making themselves known now. Wildfires on the North Pole, unbearable heatwaves in the most of Europe, smog alarms: it’s only a small part of what’s to come in the next decades. Why are we still obsessed with expanding our own individual properties, neglecting the effects our lifestyles have on the planet as a whole? Knowing that if we continue like this our own little situations will be affected?
I could imagine a system where people would be rewarded for their footprint, like getting a basic financial incentive when keeping their footprint under a certain amount of points, taking into account how many kids one has, not having a car, eating a plant based diet etcetera. Many people are waiting for the government or companies to come with solutions. What we can do as individuals now is raising awareness about lifestyle changes and voicing out our opinion, like when friends announce their 5th flight to a destination far away or buy a second car. Even though this might not be nice. And even though it might seem futile: it is all in the little things!
Apart from that in my opinion the State’s public property of common goods should be getting a distinct position as ‘common property not meant for exploitation’, like it used to be in the past and still is the case in some countries. It seems the only way….Do you have any other good ideas to combat climate change?
In the meantime I’m working on songs on the subject. All I can do as a musician….
Suddenly temperatures dropped 10 degrees tonight after the heatwave of the past days. It felt as if an extremely heavy hot blanket that had been thrown over my house got removed and my world got bigger again all of a sudden. Finally able to breathe again! I love this!
Yup, I am one of those crazy people who love the rain and cold. I do like sunny days ofcourse, but certainly not above 25 degrees. Above that temperature I can’t exercise or think well and it really works on my mood, no matter how sunny the beaches look. I spent a lot of time in the sea the past days to cool down. It’s amazing to have the sea nearby!
The interesting part was that the hot weather had me thinking about the other places with a bit more nature where I could see myself living in the future. I really felt like escaping now and then. I had considered the South of Holland before since my ancestors are from there and I like the region but there it’s even 5 degrees warmer (!). Or the equally land locked East of Holland? I am pretty negative about the effects of climate change so I think we should brace ourselves for even hotter weather in the future. Or my favourite cool country: Ireland!
I think it’s interesting why some people love the cold and others love the hot. Does it have to do with body posture, where you’re from, what you’re used to or just a personal preference? Any other lovers of rain and cold out there? In which places could you see yourself live ideally just looking at climate? Summer all year? Do you worry about the future effects of climate change?
I can be quite a hermit at times. I have always been able to easily entertain myself for days without interacting with other people. Last week I stayed in a house in the woods at the Veluwe and most of my social activities were with animals haha! A conscious decision! So nice to be fully in touch with nature. Waking up at 5am when the sun rises, with the sounds of the dawn chorus, long walks in the national park, cycles, horse riding, swimming, deer spotting. All of it just out in nature, no city visits etcetera. It reminded me of the feeling I had when living in Ireland and that I sometimes miss here. To really be away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. I find it very relaxing and it helps me grounding and focussing on my own goals again.
Even though I love the dunes and the beach it’s impossible in The Hague to go for walks without seeing any other people. Have you ever had that experience of being alone in nature for a longer period of time? What feeling or which insights did it give you? I hope you’re enjoying the spring weather this Pentecost and your inner fires will be resparked aswell!
When I was a little kid, there was always one item on my birthday wish list: a Shetland pony. I’ve always loved animals: domestic pets but preferably the bigger ones, like donkey’s, horses and deer. I wanted to become a veterinarian in primary school. Maybe I should have!
Every autumn I love to go deer spotting in the woods in the East during the deer rut. And here in the dunes in my backyard I love watching the wild Galloway highland cattle. I’ve even seen the birth of one of the baby cows! Last spring I went for a day hike with a donkey and I’m planning to do that again this summer. Connecting with our fellow friends is so grounding and healing to me. Must be my Sagittarius star sign!
One day I hope to live on a farm again where I can offer music, vocal coaching, meditation, inspiration workshops and….walks and coaching with animals! I even dreamt a very beautiful name for it already!
Since a few weeks the shallow Dutch coastal waters near The Hague have a new visitor: a large humpback whale. A new Facebook group was started with many reported sightings, but I hadn’t been lucky enough to see him, even though I Iive right on the beach.
Suddenly everybody walking the beach or the harbour heads would share one common goal: to catch a glimp of this big mammal. It created a whole new social atmosphere between the usually distant beach walkers: everybody chatting to each other, helping each other, exchanging numbers, binoculars and photo’s and a general feeling of shared excitement.
FINALLY I was in luck yesterday and I suddenly caught the whale making a big jump right in front of the place where I was standing. Impressive!
Seeing this big whale also made me aware of something. Living in a big city I noticed people are usually busy looking after their individual career and family goals. The government is responsible for the common goals so why bother thinking about them.
When I lived in a house in the Irish countryside a 10 minutes drive away from a village of 600 inhabitants (quite in the middle of nowhere) I noticed people would look after the challenges of their community very well. When there were problems with electricity people would share gas tanks for heating. People would point each other mountain wells for drinking water when the private water scheme quality wasn’t sufficient.
I think this social awareness is absolutely necessary to face any of the current climate problems and take up responsibility for these, instead of waiting for the government to come with solutions. Plus it creates a nicer social atmosphere over all!
Maybe that’s why it was so special to meet our whale friend: as a gentle reminder that there are even bigger things than us. I hope you will get to see him too!