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A Sociodramatic and Personal Exploration of Climate Change

January 19th, 2011
by Katerina Seligman (copyright)

Last year I devoted almost all my waking moments to studying climate change. It was both an exhilarating and a depressing journey - exhilarating because it brought me in touch with highly educated and environmentally conscious people, depressing because I had to face the real possibility that the natural world that I love so dearly is under even more serious threat than I had previously imagined.

As a nature lover I am deeply saddened that we stand to lose a great number of living species as a direct result of climate change. Many of the world's populations, among them the poorest and least responsible for global warming, stand to lose their water supplies. Some of the world's largest cities are threatened by sea level rise. The number of climate refugees could be in the millions or even billions. These are just some of the very disturbing predictions currently being made by climate scientists.

As a response to this disturbing information I became involved in political actions to encourage our government to take the matter seriously and to raise public awareness about the urgency of the issue. Drawing on my science background, I joined with a colleague to conduct a number of local seminars entitled The Basics of Climate Science, in the hope that if people understood the science better they would be more likely to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I also made efforts to to reduce my own personal carbon foot print. Rather idealistically, I decided to stop flying since air travel produces vast quantities of harmful emissions. Then I received news that my mother was dying and I felt I had no choice but to fly to Melbourne to be with her in her final hours.

I decided to travel to our Psychodrama Trainer Development Workshop by land-based public transport. This took two days of travel by bus, boat and train, and cost more than twice as much as a budget airfare. It was an enjoyable experience but I nevertheless decided to fly home.

I went to my local supermarket to buy a bottle of wine. Faced with the choice of buying local wine or purchasing wine from the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, I chose to buy the latter knowing full well that it had traveled hundreds of kilometres to reach the supermarket shelf. I annually consume many times my body-weight in food which has traveled environmentally damaging distances to reach me.

With this awareness in mind, I entered the 'Eat Local Foods Challenge' sponsored by our district council, and for 5 weeks I tried to eat only foods grown and produced within a 200 km radius. This meant giving up coffee, chocolate, most grains and many other food items. I failed to eat 100% locally, but nevertheless won the competition!

Since then I have definitely incorporated some new buying and eating habits into my daily life. However I have also reverted to eating some foods which have traveled many kilometres to my table. This is one of the the conundrums that I face on a daily basis. My somewhat inadequate attempts to change my own behaviors have clarified for me the huge challenges that we, the global community, face in making adequate responses to the unprecedented crisis of climate change.

Read the full article by clicking here (an 85-kilobyte PDF file)

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