We’ve just come back from Iceland and we have seen such beauty. Waterfalls, lava fields, fjords, geysers and geothermal pools.
We have also seen glaciers melting. One calved when we were there. Calving is when an iceberg splits and breaks off. It sounded like thunder and those of who were standing near to the shore moved back, as the calving caused a wave which headed towards the shore.
For us the wave was not catastrophic, just a wave on an otherwise still lagoon filled with huge blue rocks of ice melting from the glaciers.
Glaciers which used to connect, but now have retreated up their own mountains. Glaciers which once melted will never freeze again. Glaciers, which as we saw, make sea levels rise.
For us it was fun, the kids jumped on and off mini-icebergs at the shore edge and sucked on clear ice never before released from its prehistoric rest.
It was mind-blowingly awe-inspiring. Like nothing I have ever seen before and yet there is a tension for me, some cognitive dissonance which causes me discomfort.
We were watching global warming and finding it beautiful.
And worse than that, we had contributed to global warming by flying to Iceland.
We did coach tours, stayed at an Airbnb, used public transport, shops and cafes and so we contributed to the local economy which used to make most of its money from whaling and fishing. We tried to do it as greenly as possible, but still we flew.
“One must not think slightingly of the paradoxical…for the paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
I don’t go looking for paradoxes and yet this summer have felt them close at hand.
My eco-head says to me, ‘Don’t travel. Don’t fly. You are contributing to global warming to such a huge extent when you fly that all your Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Recover, Dispose is petty middle glass do-gooding which obfuscates your disregard for the climate every time you fly.’
Greta is travelling by sea and train. It takes a long time to do that and we only have the school holidays.
Why travel at all? Why not just stay at home and grow our own veg?
I should, I know, but travelling is in my blood on both sides, we’re a mixed race lot in my gene pool.
Plus I have kids and I want to travel with them for so many reasons:
So they understand how beautiful and wide this world is so they want to be part of the generation who solves some of the environmental issues we face, so that they want to be part of the solution to the problems previous generations have caused
So they meet different people who do things different ways so they develop understanding and tolerance and the ability to mix with all people in this increasingly globalised world.
So they learn more about the environment. We did coach tours where earthquakes and volcanoes and glaciers were not just lessons in a classroom but places we went, things we experienced.
So that they are not scared to step out of their small, local lives, to live bigger, wider, freer lives where they know how to find their way around and make themselves at home respectfully wherever they are.
So that they feel like they live in a whole world, not just in our small village because if they understand that viscerally, then it becomes harder to be blasé about ‘them over there’, and their floods, famines, de-forestation when we know how small the world is.
Because the world needs problem solvers, communicators, risk takers. It needs people who can create connections between countries and continents, between different peoples with different needs. The world needs people who care about the world and feel connected to the environment, who feel that it is something worth saving. We need people who care enough about the world to want it to be a sustainable home for everyone, not just the rich few.
But still we flew.
I can not square the circle.
How do you deal with it?
I must live with the discomfort.
‘The paradox is tension that exists in my soul’ Paulo Coelho
My other paradox was about taking photos…
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