Man-made climate change makes evident. that anything on earth can only be permanent if it respects the circular organisation of nature and the total limitation of resources. At the same time, our linear economies and lifestyles are directed to endless extraction, consumption and pollution. The lives we live in the Global North pose a devastating threat to the existence of the most vulnerable among us, if not to our species as a whole. The first goal of www.no-more-words.net is thus to point to the urgency of climate change.
However, we are so aware, we know so much already, and yet so little has been done during the last decades. there is a yawning gap between our knowledge and our everyday behavior. Knowledge on it’s own is not sufficient. In fact, it is not worth anything, if it is not followed by serious and effective action. (Ironically, some people have even started to legitimate destructive action with the claim, that they were “at least aware” of the problem – as if this made anything better.) We have a problem not of the lack of knowledge, but of a lack of implementation of our knowledge. We lack action.
Transforming awareness into action
In accordance with findings of environmental psychology and sociology, I feel that there are two aspects that determine whether we start transforming knowledge into action: the sense of responsibility and the feeling of self-efficacy (the personal feeling, that individual action matters, that everyone, as an individual, can bring about a perceivable change.)
Both of these feelings have also strongly determined my motivation to take individual action on climate change, they have helped me to transform my life to the better and the more responsible. www.no-more-words.net gives me the opportunity to share with you, why I think that action matters.
Among all kinds of reactions I am getting for my active care for climate change, I often receive approval and even affirmation from people constantly exercising contrary lifestyles that are a disaster to the future of life on earth. They sometimes admire my resoluteness, but still seem to think that caring for the future could be some sort of hobby or trend we can adopt or follow, just according to our individual taste. If this was true, then action on the future of the planet would be totally random and the question if we have a future would just depend on the coincidence whether or not there are enough people to follow “the trend”.
In view of the destructive nature of climate change and the fact that we are all causing it, starting to act is a question of exercised responsibility. Climate change does not challenge our taste, but our moral values and the question whether we are able to live up to them or not.
www.no-more-words.net espouses for the viewpoint that there is an ethical obligation of climate action that is equally relevant and generally binding to all human beings. In other words: This website wouldn’t exist if I just had to tell about individual views and experiences that apply only to my own life.
Words are the one element that connects us all as human beings, they are necessary for the transfer of knowledge and for concerted action. In our interpersonal relations, we build up trust if what people say matches what they do.
In the developed world we have seen an inflation of communication on sustainability for several years. Companies have learnt to call their products “sustainable”, “green”, “climate friendly”, “zero emissions” to boost sales. “Green growth” has become the catchphrase of politicians to legitimize and perpetuate the way our economy is working.
We have come to believe in these win-win narratives – in words that render us the feeling and hope we are on the right track while nothing has to change fundamentally.
The truth is, with all these words, little has changed to the better and in some sectors, emissions are even on the rise. Words like these don’t matter. I would go even further and say: Because they lull us into a false sense of security, they are doing harm. They have made us believe in the magic of technical solutions and the calming talk of politicians, we could green the economy without talking to key absurdities like endless growth and excessive lifestyles on a limitred planet.
Rather than listening to people’s words, we should start listening to people’s actions more. Radically putting our focus on action would mean to do good things and then to tell others, not urging others to act in the first place. This way, we would be proving that we believe in our own standpoint in the first place, which is the necessary condition for everone else to believe in it.
Thus the title of this website is to be understood this way: No matter what you may say, it’s still your action that speaks much louder for you.
“I am the life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live.” Albert Schweizer’s realization about the thrive of all beings for life and happiness is a good starting point for any serious moral reflection on actions towards the environment. It is also much in accordance with the most basic findings of moral philosophy and our natural sense for justice, constating that We can only uprightly exercise our own right to live, if we respect and advocate that same right of other beings.
Taking into account that the planet we all live on sets absolute boundaries for extraction, consumption and pollution, everything becomes very clear: Every year, we can only extract, consume and pollute as much as planet earth can renew and recycle within this year. Thus, exceeding these planetary boundaries means taking it from others: from people in poorer countries and from future generations. By doing so, we compromise their rights and opportunities to live.
The concept of ecological footprints radically puts the focus on actual emissions and incorporates both the implications of moral philosophy and the fact that our planet’s resources are limited. Also, it can be calculated and compared on various levels – globally, country-wise, individually. For instance, tools like this can show, that we would need 5 planet earths, if everyone lived like the average American citizen, that the CO2-emissions of an average German are about 5 times higher than if they were sustainable or that resources, planet earth’s biocapacity is able to renew in 2019, were used up by 29th of July 2019 already.
I believe that ecological and carbon footprints as a tool have a great potential in bringing people to effective action – by informing them about actual emissions, by motivating true emission reductions, by pointing to the responsibility of individuals and by getting away from the prevailing technology-centered debate that always renders hopes for the future, but never incites action in the present.
Travelling, especially short-term and long-distance air travelling and particularly in association with the use of social media, is increasingly overtaking functions of symbolic consumerism behavior. Travel blogs are likely to exacerbate effects like these. My stories shared here do neither want to encourage you to go travelling, nor not to go. IF you are planning to go travelling though, I really hope you can do so in a slower, more responsible and yet so much more exciting than the usual way.
Thanks for being part of my journey!