There is no planet b

The Hushed Conversation

Travel writing increasingly seems like a perfect pastime to me. An adventurous mix of stepping into unknown habitats and cultures and the creative discipline of putting pen to paper, or more commonly fingertips to keyboard. Although a seemingly dream job, I sense that this may be one career change too many at my time of my life, however, I can’t resist starting this blog with a short travel recommendation; If you live in the UK or are visiting, can I exhort you to visit the Isles of Scilly; 28 miles off the most South Westerly point of England. Whenever I visit them, I frequently find myself stopped in my tracks by their beauty; each corner has another breathtaking view, wild coastline, turquoise sea or sparkling white beach. 

I recently spent a week on the Islands and amidst the beauty and tranquillity, betwixt the joy of exploration and surprise I became aware of a hushed conversation; a ‘there is no Plan B’ painting with a just a reminder sign attached to it as it hung in one of the local cafes; the passing comment from a young artist that lots of these houses and beautiful scenes may be underwater in the future; the island farmer who can’t understand why his kids might want to come back and live on an island that is at high risk from future rising sea levels. As if wanting to join in with this haunting whisper Melvyn Bragg in an episode of ‘In Our Time’ being aired that same week made a flippant comment of how homo erectus looks set to be the longest-lasting human species as homo sapiens are not likely to last too much longer.

Like the muted colours of a balmy evening when the sun drops behind the clouds and outer islands this conversation hangs in the air long enough to be noticed and then, it’s gone, destined to the shadows of another day. Like a potentially failing relationship where the reality is only hinted at, directness is avoided, obtuseness the language of the time and truth saying left to the ending moments long after the point of return has been passed.

Is this how it will be with our love affair with our planet? A subtle mentioning and then the all too often denial of reality, a sinking behind the skyline to be hidden once again from our gaze, forgotten, unfelt, and unspoken. I wonder what keeps us from shouting from the rooftops what the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly said is an existential threat to our species and the earth as a habitable planet? 

As with any blog I can only speak for myself; so why do I not shout from the roof tops? Partly I don’t always want to be the person who brings the party to a halt, to lurch a conversation to a heaviness not invited or expected. I sometimes don’t want to scare others, or myself by speaking the science, like some other worldly incantation casting doom and doubt upon our very existence. Maybe it’s because I know that each time I bring this ever present human unravelling to the forefront I will once again ask myself am I doing enough?

As a therapist I know that such a question is laden with potential, oughts, shoulds and social conditionings and is one to be handled with much caution. This type of question can feed into egoic notions of hero and saviour, into unrequited senses of importance and place in the world, or of despairing feelings of impotence, yet I feel it is still a valid and important question.

One that I invite us all to consider.