HOPE IS A VERBDillon Creedon

Dillon Creedon
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I was surprised at my emotions upon arrival at my first XR march. As the sun warmed my skin, I looked at the faces around me: I saw smiles, I heard chanting, and I sensed solidarity. So why do I feel sad? I wondered. I couldn’t escape emotions of guilt, shame and loneliness, feelings that were heightened by a series of powerful speeches.

My job is to write briefings about sustainability-related news. The goal is to inform corporates by writing approachable essays which present the facts, enabling them to make more sustainable choices. That’s the theory, anyway. Our clients include major banks and global mining firms, both of which wield significant power over the Earth’s biosphere. 

For my work I read multiple climate stories every week and write about the issues they cover. Although I have passionate opinions, I must remove any trace of them in my articles and present the facts from a neutral perspective. This has had the effect of normalising climate change to the extent that when I learn that the oceans are the hottest they have ever been and that scientists are “scratching their heads” trying to figure out why, I barely bat an eyelid. 

But it was the Verra scandal, a story broken by the Guardian, that stirred me to take to the streets and join a protest action. Verra is the largest certifier of carbon credits, responsible for approving projects to reduce emissions. A study found that 94% of Verra’s certified projects had no impact on emissions. Worse, forced evictions had taken place in at least one of its projects. 

I found this deeply frustrating. As a consumer, I already find it difficult to make sustainable choices. I try and avoid flying, but when I do, I always choose to offset the emissions. Finding out that this was not helping and was rather contributing to human rights abuses deepened my sense of hopelessness.

Which explains my sense of shame and loneliness at the XR march. It alienated me from the crowd. Surely, if they knew what I knew they wouldn’t even bother coming? 

Wrong. They knew. The difference was that crowd chose hope. I did too. I was among the thousands of protestors who peacefully walked around the houses of Parliament culminating in a die-in: a moment of simultaneous collapse, serving as a visual representation of the conclusion of the climate emergency. 

From a scientific perspective, hope “is known to contribute to resilience, be important for creating social change, and to instil a belief that better futures are possible.” But hope is also contagious, and it has rubbed off on me now. 

The fact that The Big One was designed to be peaceful and therefore accessible to all was a big part of the reason why I joined the march that day. For me, ending mindless fossil fuel practices and achieving climate justice is not worth a criminal record, a view that is shared by much of the public. 

To achieve hope in the climate crisis you have to do it, and keep on doing it, because hope is a verb. If, as I did, you think that climate change is inevitable and nothing can be done, get yourself to the next XR event and join the movement. 

You may be surprised at what you feel.

 

Dillon Creedon is a sustainability specialist at a publication company in London. After geography lessons on glaciers and rivers captured his imagination at school, he went on to study BA Geography at the University of Manchester and an MSc in Environmental Geography at the University of Amsterdam. Changing the doom-and-gloom narrative around climate change and biodiversity loss and championing the small wins in various contexts drives Dillon’s passion for sustainability. 

 

Call to action: Get down to a climate march, ask questions, chant chants, have fun and allow yourself to be inspired.