Climate Change and Corona The Urgency of Everything

The statue of the colonizer Hans Egede in Nuuk, Greenland, smeared with paint.
In Nuuk, Greenland, resistance against the statue of the colonizer Hans Egede is growing. | Photo (detail): picture alliance © Ritzau Scanpix | Christian Klindt Soelbeck

The year 2020 brought one disaster after another. Optimism was rare. Nevertheless, the cohesion and willingness to act, especially among young people, give our author Aka Niviâna a positive attitude. An essay about the challenges we are facing and the absolute will to tackle them. 

By Aka Niviâna Mørch Pedersen

A statement that might seem abstract and intangible, but actually pretty simple if you break it down. We live in 2020, a year with one catastrophe after another, a raging pandemic and a planet in self-destruction. The political environment seems more polarized than ever and the most obvious example may be what we see when we look at the United States. Though this is not a new thing, neither is the climate disaster. I think what gave many people - hopefully -  a wake-up call this year was the COVID-19 pandemic that changed our lives, maybe forever. I am not going to address the situation as a good thing, but I think it told us about the absolute urgency of everything. Meaning, we cannot wait when it comes to acting on the issues that we face in this world. That means everything from the racial injustices occurring around the globe to the inequality regarding class and privilege, the colonial structures and the health care system. I am sure that I am missing other very important points, but the point stays the same. We. Need. To. Act. Now.  

I am trying to stay positive, though. That might not be the favourite word of the year, but in this context it is. Luckily, I feel there is a lot of hope to find, if you take a look around the world too. Especially, I would like to address the power of the young generations that shows the rest of us that it is possible to change the current way of things. An example is within the climate activist ‘community’, where I have had the honor of meeting so many brave young people, addressing this exact urgency without hesitating. They look in the eyes of extremely powerful people without blinking, demanding that they listen. I see women empowering one another like never before and I remember, when I was a teenager it was all about competing against one another, trying to uphold your own status in a world soaked in patriarchy. You did that by putting other women down instead of uplifting one another. I look at the Black Lives Matter movement, indigenous peoples protecting their land; claiming it back. It inspires me so much and I feel blessed living in a time where people unite on all these levels. I have seen nuanced debates on all levels; I have been to numerous conferences, community meetings, elections and debates and I have been thrilled to see the dynamics change throughout the past few years. I try to remind myself of these things when I lose faith in the world and humanity. Which, unfortunately, I tend to do very often. And no wonder! There is so much bad stuff going on and so many times I have wanted to give up and stop caring because it hurts too much. What we tend to forget in those moments are all the people thinking the same way. I really think we need to appreciate that more and at the same time fearlessly try and change all the bad things. It might sound contradictory to some extent, but I really think if we practice navigating these things (which I think we already do), we can consciously start leaving space for all the issues and emotions following.  

Collective Responsibility

I want to address one more thing, which is the sense of responsibility. I think it is really important to differentiate between the individual and collective responsibility for us to stay motivated to change the world. An example is the climate issue; if we keep thinking about it as an individual responsibility it seems like an impossible task to fulfil, but if we see it and think of it as a collective task, it actually gives you the sense of being able to make the necessary changes. If we cannot directly change it as a group, it is possible to put the necessary pressure on the people having the power to do so. I know organizing and uniting is way easier said than done, but I think there is truth and power in changing the mindset from “me” to “we”. If we consciously try to implement it in our everyday life, we might unconsciously start acting it all the way.  

The layers and challenges are somewhat endless, but to me, it also just stresses the point of the urgency of everything. We need to start now for the future generations to stand a chance against all the damage that has been done to the planet, to one another and in the end, ourselves.  

All of these realizations came in the light of very recent debates going on in Greenland. I have been very engaged in a debate regarding the removal of a statue of the Danish colonizer, Hans Egede. It showed me all the good and bad sides of our community and broadened my perspective in terms of dialogue, but also made me realize that sometimes, even though we speak the same language, we do not always define the words that we use in the same way. We do not always understand the same things, even though the same words are being used. I could go into a whole talk about connotations and life experiences, but hopefully, you get my point. It is also about giving one another the best opportunity of communication, especially in small societies as we see in Greenland. Misunderstandings are expensive, especially socially.   

With so many issues to improve, in a world filled with chaos, we have to continue growing. Dig in deep within ourselves and understand what it means to sense collective responsibility. Start by growing consciousness around it and somehow, meet people where they are in the process of understanding life.