Climate change – it’s personal
A blog post by Alastair Seaman
- Our Week of Climate Action
- #ScotClimateWeek - our impacts and actions
- Protecting the sand and sea
- Another fine mess – part one
- Designing a lower carbon Scotland
- Getting to know... Lisa Snedden
- Combating climate change with information, education and training
- Litter picking 500 miles was always Gonna Be easy
- 7K for 7 Flags Challenge
- Littering less at St Joseph's Primary School in Glasgow
- Smashing litter picking targets during an unexpected stay in Scotland
- Keeping our communities beautiful
- Celebrating our brilliant volunteers
- Designing a pocket garden
- Getting to know... Nicola Smith
- East Haven Together
- It’s time to litter-ly turn anger into action
- Working in partnership to give communities a helping hand to clean up Scotland
- Why Beautiful Scotland is important to Lauder in Bloom
- We can all be climate ready
- Climate Ready Classrooms at Speyside High School
- Taking part in It's Your Neighbourhood
- Bags of opportunity for good
- Getting to know... Eve Keepax
- Lucky to live here
- A year of opportunity ahead
- How I’m trying to waste less this Christmas
- Unmasking a looming litter emergency
- Getting to know... Brian Rae
- A Canal College® journey
- Volunteering during a pandemic
- Applauding the unsung heroes who manage our award winning parks and beaches
- Socially distant but learning together
- Getting to know.......Lisa Snedden
- Waste vs the pandemic: finding a new normal for single-use cups
- Now is the time to change
- Could the Global Goals provide a framework for the green recovery?
- Getting to know....Connor Launder
- Our incredible Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood community
- Getting to know our people behind Climate Ready Classrooms
- Lockdown litter - a community view
- Looking after beaches
- Time for a more sustainable future, a greener and fairer one for all
- Getting to know.....Claire Gibson
- The Origins of George Wyllie's 'Original Earth Guarantee'
- Getting to know... Aoife Hutton
- National disgrace of lockdown litter
- The healing power of local places
- Tackling Covid-19 and climate change at a community level
- Amid the Coronavirus crisis the climate emergency has not gone away
- Bringing environmental education home
- #TurdTag – getting creative to tackle dog poo
- Preparing young people to take action on climate change
- Running on community power
- Reconnecting with nature
- Coronavirus isn't an excuse - flytipping is still a crime
- Sowing seeds of hope in our community
- Hope for the environment post-Coronavirus?
- From Eco-School Committee to environmental charity
- You can’t tackle the climate crisis unless you are climate ready
- Why everyone wins when you take part in Beautiful Scotland
- Entering our third decade with a splash
- Is 2020 the year for a circular economy in Scotland?
- A year in the life of: the campaigns and innovation team
- Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime
- Setting sail: all aboard the partnership
- Free wheeling
- Scotland is thirsty for change
- This #ScotClimateWeek, are you ready to pledge?
- Upstream Battle at Whinhill Primary School
- Elaine Hopley on our Upstream Battle week of action
- 20 September climate strikes: what took place and what happens now?
- Playing our part to reduce cup waste
- The funeral of a glacier: time to pull the emergency brake
- Get your Paws on Plastic
- It’s time to take action to reverse climate change
- Monitoring litter to help keep Scotland beautiful
- Tackling Our Unsustainable Cup Consumption
- Cups hitting the ground: what we learned at TRNSMT Festival
- We All Have To Fight The UpStream Battle
- It's rubbish that people have to clean up after litter bugs
- The power of pocket gardens
- Registering your clean up makes a difference
- Tackling climate change starts at home
- Speaking the language of Carbon Literacy
- The life of a Keep Scotland Beautiful intern
- Wheatley Group: two years on and still going strong
- Roadside Litter: Think twice before you chuck
- Our citizen scientists are ready to make waves for Upstream Battle
- Taking a stand on climate change – what actions will you take?
- The Cup Movement will tackle our litter culture head on
- Working across borders to tackle climate change
- Celebrating 25 years of Eco-Schools in Scotland
- Putting young people first for our environment at Keep Scotland Beautiful
- Treading lightly – steps to lower our carbon footprint
- Aunty Babs washes her spoon and so should you
- Climate change: we can all do our bit
- Have yourself a green Christmas
- Shifting up a gear on Scotland’s roadside litter problem
- It’s time to consign our litter problem to the dustbin of history
- We can save our seas by starting at home
- Everyone can do their bit to protect the world – what’s your Goal?
The charred ruins were still smouldering when I arrived at the small village on the plains of Nepal. It was 43 degrees in the shade and a hot wind was blowing like an industrial dryer. After weeks of unseasonably hot and dry weather a spark from a cooking fire had ignited a grass roof. Ten minutes was all it took for flames to rip through the whole village and reduce it to ashes.
Fortunately, no-one was killed but people lost nearly everything. One group of men had just returned the night before from a year of working in India; the hard-saved money in their bags was consumed by the flames.
Two months later the same village was under two feet of water after the local river burst its banks following unusually heavy monsoon rain. The makeshift shelters that were hurriedly constructed after the fire were washed away and a beleaguered community had to cope with a second tragedy.
For five years I worked with the International Nepal Fellowship (INF), a Christian charity that helps some of the poorest people in Nepal. INF has seen a marked increase in these weather-induced disasters in recent years, a trend that has been confirmed by the UN which ranks Nepal as the fourth most vulnerable country to climate induced natural disasters.
Responding quickly to these kinds of disasters is a growing part of INF's work and we were able to mobilise relief quickly. But climate change is a global problem that needs a global solution. That’s why I’m excited to have joined Keep Scotland Beautiful and support work carried out through our management of the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund that is empowering Scottish communities to reduce their carbon footprint.
It’s tragic that the people who suffer most from climate change have usually done nothing to cause the problem and often have no resources to help them avoid or recover from its devastating impact.
My experience in Nepal challenges my high carbon lifestyle in a profound and powerful way.
Perhaps part of the reason for our society’s blindness to the realty of climate change is that we’re currently so shielded from its impact. We don’t see these communities. We don’t know the names of these people. We haven’t drunk tea with them and heard them tell their desperate stories. They are out of our sight and out of our minds; voiceless, poor and powerless.
Which makes me wonder whether we need to be more intentional in giving them a voice here in Scotland?
What would happen if we could make a more direct link between our individual high carbon choices in Scotland and the suffering experienced by poor people around the world? How might our actions change if we connected our behaviour with the stories of individuals whose lives have been devastated by climate change? What if we made it personal?
Perhaps we could learn from the campaign against tobacco, which graphically shows the harm caused by smoking at the point of sale. What would happen if we took the names, photos and stories of those Nepali villagers, and thousands of others like them, and put them on our boarding passes and petrol pumps?
The scale and nature of climate change is so huge and global that it can be hard for ordinary individuals in Scotland to engage with. Perhaps we also need to remind ourselves that it’s a deeply personal problem for millions of people, which demands a personal response from people like you and me.
Alastair Seaman is Operations Manager for Keep Scotland Beautiful and leads our team who manage the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund to help community organisations reduce local carbon emissions.