Reading to scare you while very pregnant: This changes everything (Naomi Klein)

So I have, while heavily pregnant with my first baby, been reading ‘This Changes Everything’ by Naomi Klein (here be affiliate links, fyi) and I have to say it is simultaneously the most terrifying, and hopful book I have read about Climate Change (by which I mean it’s the only book I have read about climate change so far – I plan to change this!).

As I blogged about just after Christmas, the closer I get to having my baby, the more I worry about the world I am bringing him into. I look around and feel like society as we have designed it right now isnt good enough. It doesn’t work well for so many people. In the UK if you have a mental health problem, a disability, if you are poor or from a marginalised community, your opportunities are automatically limited by the many punative systems we have designed.

The book was written in 2014, and I am at least one book behind now, so I have some catching up to do. But I am glad I have made a start on better educating myslef about what can be done.

I think what I like about Klein’s book, so far, is that she positions the fight against climate change within the fight against many forms of social injustice, so that building a society that can address climate change will also mean building a society that works better for everyone. I think this is the big message I will be taking away from this book. If you have not read this already (and if you are interested in, or worried about climate change you probably have already!) I suggest thinking about opening this one up.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

2019: Thinking about Now or Never Times (part two)

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In my last blog I wrote a bit about what I had been doing last year, which apart from being pregnant and moving house twice, turned out not to amount to much. However in this past year, where I’ve been feeling a new person grow and develop inside me I have noticed that I have felt differently, or at least more strongly about things than I had before. I have been thinking a lot about how, in a number of ways, this time of my life feels like a kind of ‘Now or Never’ time. The new year is always a good time for reflection so I wanted to put some of these thoughts out there – I’m very interested to know if other people have reached similar moments in their lives.

  1. Having a baby at all – Over the last few years I became increasingly conscious of my biological reality. My time was running out, egg wise. So from that point of view it really felt like ‘now or never’. We have been immensely lucky to have been able to access IVF on the NHS and appear to be having a healthy pregnancy. So in some ways this issue now feels like it’s almost past, although I won’t feel properly comfortable with that until he’s safely out in a few weeks time.
  2. Living a creative life – I will go on maternity leave in a few weeks time and everything will change for me. I’ll not be doing the day job for about a year, and may find that I can squeeze in enough scraps of creative time to build a different kind of career. I do very much like my day job, which is in mental health research, and think it is important. But it’s emotionally very tiring work and my heart does pull me towards something more creative. Maybe with all the change that will be happening in the coming year, this could be a good time to try to change that too. However, everyone I have spoken to who actually has a baby has said to me not to make any plans, at all, so I may be thinking well beyond my actual capacity to do stuff here.
  3. Reproductive rights – In my last post I talked about the tiredness I have been experiencing and how rubbish that has left me feeling. In many ways I have not felt myself. My pregnancy was very much a wanted pregnancy, and I have been fortunate never to experience an unwanted one. However, I have watched repeated assaults on women’s reproductive rights in the US this year with an increasing sense of dread. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be forced to go through an unwanted pregnancy. My very wanted pregnancy has really taken a toll on me physically and psychologically. I am completely in awe of what women can do when it comes to bringing new life into the world, and now I have experienced it cannot understand why it is not written or talked about more. But that superpower should be under the control of the women it is happening to, not a bunch of grumpy wealthy old white men.
  4. The climate – This is the one is the most profound ‘now or never’ moment in my list, not just for me, but for humanity. As I write this Australia is on fire. Homes, precious wilderness and entire towns are being lost. People and animals are dying. In London in the spring and summer this year I saw a number of Extinction Rebellion Protests and was very much on side with them. One evening my partner and I walked out onto Southwark Bridge, which had been closed by the protesters. There was a carnival atmosphere on the bridge and many of the protesters had bought art work, food and set up impromptu talks and musical events. The sun was setting and the air was hazy and warm. We walked, hand in hand, down the centre of a road that is normally reserved for cars. The effect was very romantic, but the air was hazy because it was full of pollution, and the protesters were there because we are at the vital tipping point now. We don’t have time to waste. I see a deep political cowardice on this issue running through governments across the world. Many of our politicians were happy to talk about having to make ‘difficult choices’ when they were merrily imposing austerity on the people least able to pay for it in the UK over that last ten years. But now, presented with an existential threat, they appear to wring their hands and say ‘oh but it’s too hard’. I’ve yet to hear the rhetoric of ‘difficult choices’ being applied to the petrochemical industry, or to our consumer culture. But now this is where the action needs to be taken, this is where those difficult choices need to be made. I wasn’t pregnant when my partner and I walked over the bridge that evening. But I have since thought about it a number of times and have felt guilty about having a baby. What kind of life will he have if we don’t act seriously now?

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Walking in the woods.

We are taking a few days down time at the moment, staying in the New Forest. It is a very beautiful, wild place. We have taken several long walks through the woods and I have certainly felt better for it. The air is lighter and fresher here. At times I feel I walk a little taller, the muscles in my back are not so tense.

When I manage to get out of the city and into the countryside I am frequently shocked into remembering how vividly beautiful the UK countryside is. It is spring at the moment and we have encountered blubell carpets and the fresh green shoots of new growth all around us. I often feel, when out and about in our vibrant green spaces, that many people from the UK who travel long distances to find exotic wild locations are missing out on the wild places that are much closer to home. 

But we have also encountered patches of land where the trees are dying. The forest is undergoing wetter winters and dryer summers, and the natural soil microcosm is becoming unbalanced, leading to the roots of many trees rotting in the soil. The change in soil conditions is probably an consequence of climate change. 

Here is another reason I am so disappointed with the moral leadership of our current generation of politicians. We have known for quite some time there is much work to be done to protect our beautiful wild places, from cleaning up polution, and carefully assessing the impact of various pesticides on the soil, through to the Enormous task of planning and taking action over climate change. But while there are many organisations working hard to tackle these problems, our politicians appear to take a ‘profit now, some one else can clean up the mess later’ attitude. This is a peculiarly selfish and short sighted approach, which burdens generations to come with a vastly depleted natural environment, and the loss of those wonderful British wild places.