This year’s Art Walk Porty theme coincides with many alarming political and environmental circumstances. From things close to home such as the bin strikes, to mass drought worldwide and extreme heat waves. It’s overwhelming to say the least…It’s had me thinking about our connection to nature and the sea as well as the impact our individual actions have.
I’m fortunate enough to have grown up around the coast and have always felt a deep connection to it. Even during my daily ride along the promenade, I always find myself taking a deep breath and releasing any anxieties. To tell the truth, most days I just have a cheesy grin on my face because the view is that good. Or it’s because I can see several dogs running wild along the beach, diving in and out of the water. I think a common connection amongst the community here is the power of the sea. Not only does the seaside create beautiful memories, but it has spiritual and healing power. I’m a great believer in cold water having a positive impact on physical and mental wellbeing.
The extra challenge the North Sea presents makes the pay off even greater, we like it cold! I had a bet with my Grandfather last year that he wouldn’t muster the courage to tackle the north sea, he’s a bonkers man and of course did it (all the while singing Soprano). On a more tender note, the seaside has always grounded me in times of troubles. My nan passed away during the first few months of the pandemic, meaning I was unable to travel home to be with my family. One evening when struggling to deal with the weight of this, I took a walk along Portobello, and as I reached the tip of the shoreline, the whole sky lit up purple. Purple being my Nan’s favourite colour. Whilst rationally this is not a natural phenomenon, it felt special. It made me feel close to her, close to home. And I’m sure I’m not alone in tales such as this.
Connecting to nature is important and that is why it is important we care for it. But how much of this is down to us as individuals or small communities. It’s difficult to think of our own conscious actions as powerful when the fight against the climate emergency is largely in the hands of corporate empires and the powers above. Why should we recycle when the system is flawed? Why should we pick up someone elses litter when it ends up in a landfill or back in the ocean anyway? Why should we care for our waterways when water companies actively pump sewage into it?
At present, society is still malleable and can be blown into many shapes. But at some point, the glass might cool, set, and become much harder to change. The resulting shape could be beautiful or deformed, or the glass could shatter altogether, depending on what happens while the glass is still hot.— William MacAskill
I say yes, yes of course our actions are powerful, get angry, come together as a community, express your emotions about these crimes against the environment. Last year whilst home in Kent I was unable to swim in the sea as the pollution levels were too high. The following week my family joined in the protest against dumping sewage into the ocean. Seeing my cousin’s kids take part in this at first saddened me, their summer memories formed around banners excaliaming ‘DON’T PUT POO AND WEE IN OUR SEA’. The thought of kids being unable to play in the sea due to the environmental impact of pollution is outrageous, but a common reality. I believe it’s important for children to be aware of these issues from an early age and to experience the importance of protest. Raise them to be little anarchists fighting the good fight, it acknowledges the power of the individual.
We very often fail to think as carefully about helping others as we could, mistakenly believing that applying data and rationality to a charitable endeavor robs the act of virtue. And that means we pass up opportunities to make a tremendous difference. — William MacAskill
William MacAstall is a leading figure in the promotion of Longtermism, an ethical stance which gives priority to improving the long-term future. Instead of accepting a gloomy fate, we make active choices to promote a positive future for younger generations. Whilst I do not vouch for the skewed dystopian view carried over by Tech-Billionaires, I do believe the core principles are important to hold for a successful shift towards positive change: positive actions = a positive future. One should attempt to not become overwhelmed with numbers, statistics and probabilities of the climate crisis. Instead think about what matters to you and the active changes you can make to better the situation. Imagine the impact if every household in Portobello made one small, achievable and sustainable lifestyle change to better the future of our planet…
“How can I make the biggest difference I can?” and using evidence and careful reasoning to try to find an answer. The honest and impartial attempt to work out what’s best for the world, and a commitment to do what’s best, whatever that turns out to be. — William MacAskill
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