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Rowan Coleman: are we now only firefighting?

PUBLISHED: 15:54 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:54 21 August 2018

Fire crews, using controlled burns, create a barrier in the foothills of Carpinteria, California, in the hopes of containing the Thomas fire in Southern California (photo: Getty Images / JPhilipson)

Fire crews, using controlled burns, create a barrier in the foothills of Carpinteria, California, in the hopes of containing the Thomas fire in Southern California (photo: Getty Images / JPhilipson)

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Do we want to be remembered as the generation that couldn’t be bothered to save the world, asks Rowan

I love September, it’s my favourite month. The weather is usually fine enough to be able to enjoy the countryside, but it has an edge of crispness that comes with my favourite season, autumn. I love it when the leaves begin to turn and the trees go out for the year in a blaze of glory. For me, September is a time to reflect on the year so far, but it’s also a time of new beginnings, even as we head into winter.

But so much has changed from the Septembers I remember as a child. And I don’t just mean the thrill of buying a new pen set for school, tempered by the gloom of new PE kit. The world has changed, and in many ways not for the better. And part of the responsibility of that lies at my door, and yours too.

And I’m not just talking about what will be, in my view, the certain disaster of Brexit or the political shambles happening in the US right now, although those things really are terrible. I’m talking about the irreparable and continuing damage we’ve done to the environment – damage that we are failing to stop fast enough.

This summer we saw, perhaps truly clearly for the first time, the results of a warmer planet. Instead of reports of freak weather, we hear about how even in temperate Hertfordshire we need to plan for hotter, wetter and colder weather. Extreme weather has become the norm, and it is impossible to escape the truth that this is a direct result of man-made global warming.

When I was a kid going back to school, I pretty much knew what to expect from the seasons. I’m slowly coming to understand that the familiarity I grew up with is becoming a thing of the past. Our climate isn’t going to get back to normal. This is the new normal. And I think it’s time each of us faced up to that.

Most of us recycle nowadays, most of us watch our plastic consumption, buy cleaner cars, and live with as low a carbon footprint as possible (if you don’t, it’s time to pull your socks up), and that’s important. But as citizens it’s also up to us to keep pressure on our governments – local, national and international – to try and slow down the effects that mankind is having on our planet. Because there is only one of it. There is no plan B. We are not going to be colonising Mars or travelling to a new solar system anytime soon.

And if you think ‘Well, I’ll be long dead by the time it gets really bad’, think about your children, and your children’s children. Think about being remembered, for as long as there is civilisation left to remember us, as the people who couldn’t be bothered to fight to save the world.


Best-selling novelist and mum-of-four Rowan Coleman shares the chaos and comedy of her life in the county

Twitter @rowancoleman


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