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Queers Against Climate Change

As he sets his resolutions for the year ahead, writer and performer Nathaniel Hall reflects on the environmental impact of a December of indulgence.

The excesses of the festive season are over, our waistlines are larger, and the January blues are kicking in. If you’re anything like me, the New Year offers a chance to set
some frivolous resolutions for the year ahead that will be broken come February. But somehow this January has felt different.

Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly anxious about my impact on the planet. It’s something we’re all concerned about, but recent extreme weather events and heartbreaking images of seal pups being swept off broken ice sheets have revealed the urgency of the situation. If David Attenborough says it’s bad, you know it’s bad.

Throughout the festive period, I found myself questioning everything. Is this thing I’m buying really necessary? Is cotton or recycled polyester better for the planet? How long should we leave on the fairy lights? Do we even need fairy lights? Will that Christmas cracker toy go straight to the landfill? Are the farts from my overly eager sprout consumption contributing to global warming?

Trying to be eco-conscious during the largest consumerist festival in the world is a minefield. And combined with seeing news reports of forest fires, floods, landslides and
biodiversity collapse, I’ve recently felt frozen with fear about the future. But the science is clear and burying our heads in the sand is not an option.

Make no mistake, climate justice is an intersectional issue. On a more destabilised planet, the rights and freedoms of minorities will sink to the bottom of the pile first. So, how do we
thaw the freeze response?

A few years back, I had a terrible episode of anxiety thanks to C-PTSD, and my therapist gave me a simple quote for the bad days: You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step. One step might seem insignificant, but if we all took a step in the right direction each day, think of the change we could make. Instead of focusing on what little control we have over climate change, we should focus on what control we do have.

OK, so we’re not all able to glue ourselves to roads or bring motorways to a standstill, but we all know the simple steps we need to take: reduce our consumption, reuse and recycle, reject fast fashion, stop upgrading tech, buy ethically produced products, switch to renewables, insulate our homes better, reduce meat and dairy (or cut them out entirely), walk and cycle more, fly less… And what better time than New Year to commit to one
of those steps?

Look, I’m not here to preach. We’re all consumers, me included, and I’m not here to judge individual choices. But, if we’re serious about protecting this incredible planet that we’re custodians of, we’re all going to have to commit to collective action. Sometimes that change will be easy, sometimes difficult – particularly as we face a bitter winter during a cost-of-living crisis. ‘Eco’ and ‘ethical’ have become synonymous with ‘more expensive’, but as more of us put our spending power there, the markets will respond, and prices will come down. We might feel we can’t change the capitalist society we live in, but we can play it at its own game. Do I believe climate justice is solely the responsibility of the individual? No.

Governments and businesses must take responsibility for the ecologically damaging systems they’ve built. And of course, we should pressure them to change, and fast.

Just before Christmas, I attended a climate demonstration. It was during the December cold snap and the snow and ice had (of course) brought Britain shuddering to a halt. One disgruntled passer-by muttered he was sick of ‘snowflakes’ telling him what to do. As he went on his miserly way I looked up at the falling snow and smiled to myself. A few snowflakes might be powerless, but millions of them can bring a whole country to its knees.

nathanieljhall.co.uk

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