I did something stupid this week. I walked my dog, but his leash was not on properly and Leo smelled rabbits. Pheasants. Herons. Maybe a stork. I muttered “shitshitssorrysorry” to animals I didn’t know but loved and raced after my dog.
As I was running through the quiet area, I was chased by a man. I didn’t hear him, I still had my iPhone earbuds in. It must have looked comical from a distance: a kind of Tom & Jerry but with a dog, a human and behind it an increasingly angry human. When my dog and I came to a stop, panting, I took off my earphones and only heard the man.
“Are you right in your head?!”, he shouted, intimidating arm gestures. “It wasn’t my intention”, I stuttered, shoulders drooping, why did he have to go on like that? He, shouting even louder: “Birds breed here! You ruin all the beauty.” And he strode off. Softly, I thought as I watched his long strides, softly for the birds.
An hour later, still blushing with shame, I received push notifications. Scientists sounded the alarm for the three hundred thousandth time in an IPCC report:
‘Alarming message: the world is not doing enough about climate change’
I was reminded of the Tom & Jerry scene and suddenly understood the man’s screams. That man, he symbolized the scientists who time and again turn out to fall on deaf ears with their apocalyptic yet very realistic warnings. And me… I stood with my iPhone earphones as a symbol for the politicians who will soon run the provinces and delay the nitrogen policy. I symbolized Rutte & associates who call themselves the ‘greenest cabinet ever’, but fail to achieve most of the climate goals.
I was there, in that meadow, the boss of Tata Steel who continues to emit toxic gases to his heart’s content. I was the Shell top who only looks at profit, the Esso boss who is no better, the KLM director with an unhealthy predilection for growth, the retail chain with a great talent for unabashedly hypocritical greenwashing.
I was the producer of unnecessarily large and polluting SUVs, I was the Eneco top with its power station, I was the CEO of the bank that offers loans for oil and gas.
But there is a difference. I took off my earphones. From now on, I always check my dog’s leash near a nesting area. Let this 300,000th scientific warning from the IPCC have the same effect on the politicians, the CEOs, the top executives, the bigwigs, the bosses. Let them be ashamed and act accordingly, let it echo in their heads:
“You’re ruining all the beauty.”
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