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When it happens at home

by Sara Löwgren
This is a personal story. It is different from our regular blog posts and may present a different perspective.

I have written about the impacts of climate change for years. Seeking to inform, animate, and provoke action, I put words to emotions I did not yet know. I am extremely privileged: I still do not know what it feels like when a drought threatens your family’s daily meal, when your house is washed away in a flood, or when you know that within 50 years, your home nation will be entirely submerged by the ocean. But after a life of feeling safe and protected, climate change is finally knocking on my own, Swedish door. It is not a matter of life and death, but it is happening at home and I am scared.

The other day, my grandfather posted a picture of a patch of sandy, dry soil, remarking that this used to be their lawn. I know that lawn way too well, know that it is green and lush and that you must watch out for chicken poop before you lay down to enjoy it. That’s how it used to be, last year and the all years I can remember before that. Across my green home country, lawns and field are turning brown. Urgent lack of feed is pushing farmers to give their cattle away, or slaughter half their herds prematurely. No machinery is allowed that could heat or drop sparks on the ground; there are already more than 60 wildfires raging across the country, engulfing unprepared properties and fuel-loaded forests as they go.

Capture
“We used to call this a lawn.” My grandpa recently posted this picture on Facebook.

Compared to other countries’, Sweden’s recent experience with climate change is harmless. In a way, drought is Sweden even seems fair. When thinking about climate justice, I often wish that polluters would bear the whole burden of their emissions. Easy to say, but how true do I stay to my principles, when it is about my own country? Per capita, Sweden pollutes a lot. But my granpa’s lawn? Rationality and perspective feel far away. I keep wishing for someone else to act; I blame larger countries and capitalism.

As an individual, I sometimes feel overwhelming powerlessness. I study climate change, climate policy, and climate justice, but when climate change is disrupting life at home, I stand helpless. I cannot create rain and stop a drought.

Powerlessness is paralyzing, but we must keep moving. Sweden is taking some steps towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions, steps which clearly must become more ambitious. I believe that as a political and economic unit as well as 10 million individuals, Sweden must internalize the externalities of our import-based economy, put pressure on ourselves and other countries, and cut all unnecessary consumption. The drought is scary, but we can unite over our emotions from the summer of 2018 and let them fuel our necessary revolution of climate change mitigation. Superseding fear and frustration, I feel motivation and hope.

 

featured image by Christine Ohlsson/TT.

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