As each new month rolls around and I sit down to write another blog I think to myself, “self, this time you should do one about fitness stuff.” Each month I have every intention of writing something, ideally, interesting and informative about the industry I work in and reveal some of the things I’ve learned recently.
And yet, each month I end up diverging into a completely different topic on which I am not as well informed and disseminate it to an audience of people who aren’t coming to me for my social, cultural or political views. I can tell you, this is not the month to address that pattern – but for what it’s worth I do know that a Personal Trainer is probably best served talking about personal training and exercise related things. Food at a stretch.
However, as I’ve said before, these blogs are a fair bit of effort to produce and the impetus to keep writing long articles comes from caring about the topics I cover. This is not to say I don’t care about the gym and exercise and nutrition. I do care. A lot. The thing is, though, we seem to be very much at a tipping point in human history. Probably THE tipping point in human history. With each day that passes and each new article I read and video I watch to try to understand it, the more I feel that writing about the gym or what the latest science is on recovery periods between sets and what supplements are actually useful is just not…pressing. The house is burning down, now is not the time to talk about if you’ve maintained your calorie deficit this week.
All people, indeed all lifeforms, are facing a harrowing existential crisis. I was not alive in the Cold War period but I can imagine that the threat of total nuclear annihilation happening at any moment would be a bit stressful and cause people to act differently than they otherwise would. I think where we are right now is like that but to the power 1000.
I have two warring parts of my brain when it comes to rationalising and accepting what is and what’s coming. On the one hand, I want to know everything. I want to know where we are, how we got here, who’s responsible, what can be done, who can do it, who I need to talk to and why it’s taking so long. Having that information is great, but it does lead to some pretty desolate moments when you realise that as an individual, you have remarkably little tangible way to affect any of this. The bad stuff is happening no matter how many articles you read.
So on the other hand, with the knowledge that there really isn’t much you can do outside of advocacy, personal responsibility and dabbling in a little activism – that’s all the more reason to focus on what you can control in the little bubble of your own life. Focus more on your friends, your work, your passions because if it’s all going to happen anyway, you may as well live in the moment while you can. That part of me would have written a blog on fitness stuff.
The part currently at the wheel though, is still trying to piece it all together. If there has been any universal consensus about me as a person it’s that I’m stubborn. I don’t think this is a good or a bad thing, it’s definitely a thing though. This often looks like becoming fixated on a single task, ignoring everything else, until I can conclude it to my satisfaction. I can’t conclude this task to my satisfaction but I have to keep trying. So I’m kind of stuck in a loop. It’s an ever-present thought running in my head, getting louder as the weeks and months roll on. It’s really challenging to know where to begin on this. There has never been a more urgent, existential crisis in human history and. we’re. doing. nothing.
One of the hardest things to accept is that the ‘we’ I mention are not individuals. Or, more specifically, not individuals like you or I. We are, individually, not able to do that much. There are individuals who are able to do a lot. If you have ever organised anything involving more than, like, two other people, you know that it is way harder than it should be. Trying to organise a city, state, country and ultimately global community to do a bunch of things because it’s a good idea…good luck with that.
However, as the last 18 odd months have shown, imperfectly, we are capable of massive changes to our behaviour on a short timescale. A lot of countries, Australia included, did a pretty average job of dealing with the pandemic. But even an average job has given us a path back to a world we can recognise again, although it will never be quite the same. On the whole, the global community has done mostly what it’s needed to. There has been reciprocity between people on an individual and community level. When my way of life depends on you doing the right thing and yours mine, we are not too bad at putting aside our differences so we can both benefit. There’s obviously plenty of exceptions to this, as there always will be, but it’s important to recognise that the global response to the coronavirus pandemic was one of almost unprecedented cooperation.
The climate crisis is orders of magnitude more serious and far reaching. The fallout is insignificant compared to the harsh reality we are all going to face if we don’t have action as swift and even more direct than the global response to the pandemic. Yet, globally, we are doing next to nothing. Australia deserves a special mention for its abhorrent and unforgivable “response” – if you could even call it that. Australia is in fact powering ahead in the opposite direction, brazenly. It makes my blood boil. So I kind of know how the planet feels right now. Here are a couple videos you can watch if you also want to feel like the planet.
First a bit of a satirical, yet accurate, look into where your emissions reducing dollars are being spent. Cool and normal.
Next a lovely look at our environment minister who the court has found has a duty of care to young people not to ruin the environment rejecting a massive renewable project and approving three new coal mines since that ruling came down. Fantastic.
How about a video explaining the completely non-sensical “gas fired recovery”. Using tax payer dollars to prop up multinationals to create a high emissions product that has rapidly dwindling demand and only serves to make our energy prices higher as well as leaving the taxpayer on the hook for a bunch of stranded assets. You love to see it.
This is only scratching the surface. Every day there is a new opportunity to take meaningful action and every single time the people in charge of the levers in Australia dither and obfuscate and redirect and continue to expand their fossil fuel usage.
It’s far from just Australia though. Australia is perhaps uniquely horrific but looking at the US you can see that the Biden Administration $3.5 trillion Build Back Better infrastructure and social security plan which has majority public support and has a lot of money tagged for addressing climate change has been stymied by two Democratic representatives (Manchin is a moderate Democrat from coal country so it’s not too hard to figure out his allegiance) refusing to endorse it. The bill has had repeated reworkings and compromises and now faces being gutted to less than $2 trillion, likely much less.
China is also worth a mention here as they have got 43 new coal power plants in the works, so that’s good news. In fact, let’s look at the climate action tracker, you can see in the gallery below I’ve put in some of the more interesting countries (plus the EU). In fact, according to this site the only country who is pulling their weight is Gambia.
This is a haunting list to look at when you consider just how bad the effects of climate change will be. And it’s even worse when you consider it’s not what it will be, it’s what it is now. It’s only going to get worse. We have a fair say in how much worse though, yet we seem determined to careen headlong into the worst of it. Here’s a realistic, if kind of weird take, on what that looks like. You should be alarmed.
Why do all reputable sources say we need way more action, way more urgently and yet not enough is happening and it’s not happening anywhere near quickly enough? It’s complicated.
I’ve posted these next videos before on the Amplify Facebook page but they deserve another run. First up, a helpful illustration of what it means to be a leader or someone who has control of the levers in the world today:
The TLDW synopsis is that leaders stay in power because they have the support of people who give them enough money and influence to stay there. To do anything, you have to be able to get to a leadership position and to get to a leadership position, the people with influence have to support you. Sadly the earth doesn’t have a lot of influence in the political system and there’s a lot of unhelpful agents who do.
Next is a look at what the problem is and what we, as individuals can do about it.
Again, for those who didn’t watch the whole thing, the summary is that it’s hard to do much if you’re not at the levers. However it’s a good idea to do what you can and the best thing you can do is try to have enough influence to put people at the levers who will do the right thing. Also that any outcome is not going to be business as usual. We are going to have to endure sacrifices to our lifestyle.
I haven’t solved the issue in my head yet. It still lingers and looms and shouts at me all day long. From a short term, selfish point of view it would be easier and more beneficial to my life if I could switch off and ignore it and focus on my own wellbeing and that of those around me. It seems like that’s what everyone is doing though, becoming overwhelmed at the klaxon of alarms and urgent, desperate pleas from the scientific community and the dire statistics, ignoring what they can see with their own eyes. Trying to find a way to enjoy life in the midst of the most existential threat we have ever faced. I don’t think that’s a bad response. I think that knowing how little influence we have and not letting that be an excuse; getting the most out of your life and making the lives of those around you better is quite reasonable. We can’t all do that though. At some point we have to face up to reality. Right now we have an opportunity to face up to reality as activists and force the hand of the global community once more. If enough people do this, we have a chance.
If enough people don’t do this, the reality we will face up to will be so much worse. I recently watched another video, which gave me a good perspective on things. You, as I have, would most likely have seen one of these types of videos before:
It really gives you the feeling that once you go to the ends of what exists, both at the microscopic and macroscopic level, we really don’t amount to anything. Everything is pretty much…nothing. There’s no divine providence, no mandate that humanity will continue. In respect to everything else that exists, our actions are meaningless. Which is incredibly empowering I think.
If nothing we do matters to anything on any level, it means all we have are each other. That’s it. We have each other. Whether we get through this relatively unscathed, or even survive it, is completely irrelevant to all of existence. So it’s personal. It’s about the people you love, the people you want to have a good life. I think if you can’t find enough motivation from that to be a more active participant in cleaning up our mess then we truly have no hope; and I really don’t care about your rest period between sets or what protein powder you use.
So when it comes down to it, I’m choosing to keep having an existential crisis every day because I care. I’m scared for for my way of life. For the people I love, for my ability to be close to them and for their continued good health. That part of my brain wins. I care more about the people I love than staying in my lane and writing a blog about fitness stuff. I have to hope enough other people feel the same way too.