When we talk about climate action there is this broadness to it which can cause us to feel overwhelmed. There is so much to do, and sadly so much bad already done; how do we begin to combat this and reverse it? I’ve grappled with this question over the years, and with the feeling that so much damage has already been caused. It is hard to stave off a sense of desperation or despair that can creep in. Compounding these feelings is the reality that the communities least responsible are increasingly the most harmed. I think it’s important to start by highlighting that the term “carbon footprint” was a marketing tool popularised by oil companies to shift blame onto individuals, a distraction mechanism that was hugely successful. This feeling of guilt that “I” have caused this environmental emergency is simply not representative of how we got to where we are. To combat and reverse the damage is to hold companies with high environmental impact activities accountable, and to quell the personal guilt and fear that your lifestyle has catastrophic implications for the planet.
At the same time, this is a balancing act. I’m reminded that there are small steps that can be taken, those that we’ve heard about from a young age to the tune of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” When you bring a reusable bag to go grocery shopping or opt for the vegetarian option at dinner, these decisions may feel insignificant but together inform a mindset of climate activism. Buying eco-friendly products and joining a composting program are steps that I’ve personally taken while also recognising that these actions are not going to change the world. I’ve learned that my relationship with climate action is an imperfect work in progress.
As humans, we do indeed impact the environment by consuming and producing in ways that contribute to the rise of carbon emissions. And as a result, I feel a sense of responsibility that constantly motivates me, despite the disparity of blame that lies with individuals compared to corporations. Part of the reason I chose this career, and to work at a company like BNRG, was my desire to approach this complex problem with the potential for making a real impact.
While there are concerning threats to our environment, there are also huge opportunities to innovate and modernise. Our work focuses on this effort by bringing sustainable and resilient infrastructure to our grid. My role is focused on this goal, and has allowed me to feel a sense of impact beyond turning off the lights when I leave the room. However, this combination and connection between small individual steps and large-scale professional efforts drives me daily.
In Maine we are privileged to access the natural landscapes that illustrate the intrinsic value of sitting by the ocean or hiking to the top of a mountain. On the other hand, environmental crises are made tangible for our communities. The sea level is rising, and this will impact coastal communities in my home state. This reality reinvigorates my commitment to taking steps both big and small; it ensures that I cling to the belief that these are steps worth taking, and that I reject the spiralling thought that we may, in fact, be doomed. Living in a place like Maine, I feel compelled to hold out hope.
The Climate Action Venn Diagram is a tool that I use to stay motivated and to avoid the common and recurring pitfalls we all experience. Working on the development side of the house here at BNRG, I have the chance to consciously consider the environment, as well as examine my impact as a neighbour and a conscious community member. I feel fortunate for this unique opportunity to align and combine my professional goals with my personal passions and meet the climate challenges of our time.