As extinction rebellion protests go on in many cities, I am left to wonder whether I like their approach or not. I indeed DO believe that we all need a shake up and a wake up. But is protesting the way forward? Is it necessary to create such disruption? And are the politician even listening, are E.R. trying to get their attention, or is it just aimed at waking up fellow citizens ?
If you remember, before extinction rebellions made the headlines, there were the climate strikes and the teenager protests headlining the same newspapers, but it's already old and forgotten news, and who knows what will be next?
As everything this days, we get on with the new and out with the old when it doesn't 'spark joy' anymore.
So, is it enough to just protest for a while ??
I am left to wonder, like probably many of you : who should save this world?
Of course , as I said at the beginning of this post, I do believe that everyone should play their part in saving the world from the big catastrophe that is ahead (mostly climate change, but not only) , to the best of their ability.
This, to me, means that a politician holding a lot of power would have much more of an influence (they can make laws! How much more power would you need!?) than a citizen, but nonetheless that citizen should do his/her best to make informed decisions in everyday life and back up the right politicians.
I think the key is that everyone should recognise what can they do to the best of their ability. But here comes the issue - how does one recognise what is the best of their ability?
One could say : "simple, make the most sustainable choice everytime you are faced with a decision . Choose the bike, choose less packaging, shop local.. "and okay, these are thefirst few steps , and if all of us did that we would make some change . But is it enough?
I will give you a more complex dilemma. My own, and one that often sparks some debates in my ‘social’ circles: what role can you play in your workplace? Does your job puts you in a position to make a bigger difference? And should you harness that opportunity?
For example , am I supposed to act only as a regular citizen or, as a scientist, do I hold somewhat more responsibility? Should I focus my research on something that will make a difference or can I play around discovering the little wonder of nature that may or may not be interesting for future ? (by the way, you could do that too without changing your career!)
I was recently in a debate with my colleagues about this. As scientists we are often viewed by non scientists as those who have 'the power to change things'. Again, just to give you my example, everytime that I mention to someone that I am a marine biologist, I get bombarded with questions about pollution, whether we are doomed , what fish we can eat , and whether we are at risk when eating mollusks (mussels are my study species after all..), and whether they are sustainable ..
and the truth is that I have no clear cut answers to any of the above. And not because I am a crappy scientist but more because we (I) tend to stay on the side of caution and actually because we don’t really have all of the answers (none does!). I can take some educated guesses, having more keys to get to plausible answers , but that’s about it.
On the other hand , when I tell some fellow scientists that the reasons I stick to the field is that indeed I aim to make a difference - I get the gentle reminder that as a scientist I am also meant to be independent and unbiased. This means double pressure not to put my eagerness to save the world ahead of my scientific integrity!
So, in the meantime, I am looking at simply discovering more of our world, getting more insights into animal behaviours and the interactions between individual organisms , between species and how they change in different environments. Maybe it will hold the keys to the future, maybe the so called policy makers will come across my work and will decide on something. Maybe. Should I do more to make it visible? Maybe..
In the meantime, I do my best as a citizen making informed decisions on my personal everyday choices, and I do my best as a scientist to do the most accurate work I can do, that stimulates some thinking, while aiming to educate some of the next generations via teaching and outreach activities. And well , by writing this weekly blogs that hopefully stimulate some actions.
This is a conversation to be continued, and one that I hope will spark some thoughts and discussions, on here but also amongst you and your friends..
How about starting from this question:
What does ‘doing your best’ mean to you?
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