Something awesome happened recently.

I live next to a spot in the outskirts of Copenhagen called the Amager Commons, a 223-ha national park that is home to a number of animal and plant species. There’s falcons, hawks, owls, grebes, foxes, deer, tormentil, marsh orchids, and a bunch of others, some of which are protected by law. Amongst them is the humble Northern Crested Newt, which is about the size of my palm.

There’s much to love here. Copenhagen isn’t a large city, but it can tire you out. There are hiking and bicycle trails through the forest and a lot of my Instagram pictures are shot while walking through it and clearing my mind. It’s a place we need in a country that doesn’t have the awe-inspiring vistas of Norway or New Zealand, or the old-growth forests of the US and Canada.

Part of the Commons was rezoned at one point with the intention to knock down the vegetation and natural habitat and replace it with residential buildings. Since then, various nature protection organizations have been trying to stall development and, I’m suspecting, part of the reason why it took years for construction to begin at all was the public outcry and how this one case has always been brought up during communal elections.

Last year, the project started.

The nature protection organizations keeping an eye on the development argued that it went against nature protection laws. A court ordered the development company to cease until it could be determined whether construction was impacting protected species, which the company ignored and pressed on. I’ve had dealings with that company before and I can tell you they are a bunch of criminals that have outright lied in court in various cases and cheated to squeeze as much money as possible out of locals. Nothing ever happens to them because it’s a joint public-private venture that affords the company a certain amount of immunity.

Enter the newt.

The Friends of Amager club managed to get a court to put a stop to the construction by providing evidence that the endangered Northern Crested Newt’s habitat would be wiped out. Only catch was that the club had to pay a guarantee of 2 million Danish Kroner (roughly 320k USD) in lost earnings in case the developer appealed and won the case, and the club had to do so within 7 days.

We managed to get the money in 36 hours through Facebook-driven donations alone. The machines went packing.

Now, there’s a couple of things to note here. One is how capitalists can’t be trusted. The development company has been vocal in their intention to fight the decision “because how can a damn newt stop a multi-million project?” Companies don’t care about you, they don’t care about your well-being, and if they had it their way free-market style they’d turn the world into a huge slum if it meant more money in their pockets. Keep in mind, the guarantee that was asked for in court was 12 times higher and was based on false statements, which thankfully the judge laughed off.

The other is, piss off enough people and I don’t care how big you are. We’ll end you. It doesn’t take more than a newt to stop lying companies, after all.

I’ll put some articles below on how companies have been lying and cheating their way to contribute to the climate emergency throughout time. I want to make a point that any positive environmental action will always be facing one main opposing force; people sitting in a board room trying to take more resources out of the world than they are giving back to it. And they won’t care if it means your stress levels will go up because you only see trees on TV or that newts will be wiped out of existence or that the seas are emptying or that we’re all getting more cancer or that large parts of the world will become uninhabitable in a few years’ time. The only language they speak is stock prices and bonuses.

Also, just in case some smart-ass asks me if I have an alternative to capitalism that doesn’t involve murderous communism, I do. It’s called social entrepreneurship and my publisher, Inspired Quill, is a company functioning in this manner. Making money and not selling your soul to Satan are not mutually exclusive.

Being in nature is good for your health.

Walmart does nothing towards its zero net deforestation policy.

IKEA happy to use illegal timber, as long as someone else does the felling.

Timber barons straight up murdering activists protecting the Amazon forest.

Tesla, Facebook and others hiding their true environmental impact.

Koch Industries funding climate change denial.

About a lifetime ago (the early 2000’s, to be exact), when I was doing my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology, I spent some time going over climate change evidence.

I went through all the usual data; the narrative that ice core samples tell us about temperature cycles. The tight correlation between greenhouse emissions and temperature increases. And the apocalyptic impact just a 2-degree centigrade change would have on the world.

Back then, the scientific consensus was that we still had time to act. If we were to make drastic changes, say, decrease emissions by 25%-50% or shrink the meat industry, we could avoid the worst of it.

Forget about the sea level rising. The “worst of it” was fires, floods, and drought. It was our food supply being threatened. It was conditions where humans could no longer survive in. Us, Homo sapiens. The ultimate badasses that can thrive anywhere, from the Sahara desert to Antarctica, dropping dead because the environment becomes too hostile.

That was 20 years ago. And we’ve failed to act.

For all the awareness that we now have, for all the Greta Thunberg’s of the world and green initiatives, things look bleak. I remember Jeff Vandermeer, probably my favorite environmentally-conscious writer, having a mini-breakdown on social media over how desperate things look for the future. As he wrote, however, in his novel “Dead Astronauts”, winning (whatever that means for our planet) may not be the point. Maybe the struggle is the point.

I’m currently brainstorming a book idea revolving around this feeling of despair over the environment. This state of knowing black days are to come, of fighting against the inevitable, and failing. It’s something I feel I need to get our of my chest. I’d be lying if I said I din’t sometimes lie awake at 3am, thinking about what kind of world my two-year old niece will grow up in. Are we heading into a “The Road” kind of situation? Or is “The Parable of the Sower” the best we can hope for?

I also think this state of hopelessness makes for an interesting story. The definition of tragedy is suffering because of personal flaws, and what could be more tragic than bringing about our own suffering because we failed to take action?

I just hope this book remains forever in the fiction section.

PS. Maybe not all hope is lost. Check out this article on geoengineering.

So, here’s the thing about this spaceship we’re riding on. It’s becoming harder to survive in it. The temperature inside the cabin is rising. We’re eating things we wouldn’t even touch before, because we’re depleting our stores. As a matter of fact, the air is so filthy in here, we’re literally dropping dead.

In the face of all this, what are you and I supposed to do? What are we supposed to do to mitigate such apocalyptic destruction as the Gulf of Mexico drowning in oil, or the Pacific drowning in plastic? Governments are not in a hurry to fix things, because that would mean making sacrifices most people are not ready to accept.

A gentleman called Jadav Payeng decided he wouldn’t rely on anyone to save his island from erosion. He did it himself -by planting a forest bigger than the Central Park on it. Let that sink in. One person. 550 hectares of green anchoring an entire island, providing refuge for endangered species, and also supporting this man’s livelihood (he has a farm on the island itself). This is Homo sapiens living in balance with his environment, giving and taking, both thriving. This is not tree-hugging, this is being smart about surviving in the only planet we have.

Now, does this mean you should go and plant a forest? If you live on an island about to get washed away, yeah. Do it. Don’t wait for help, no one is coming to save you, most likely. Or set aside an hour every other week to help pick up trash from your local forest, like my neighborhood does. Or recycle. Do something, anything, except believing that you can’t make a difference by yourself.

It’ll take a lot of effort and, just because you and I can do something, it doesn’t let governments and corporations off the hook. In fact, they have a lot to answer for, with the general tendency to shift blame to the people themselves and for stalling with the enforcement of policy-level changes. Check out this article about the argument for personal versus institutional responsibility over the climate crisis, as well as the tendency of a lot of environmentalists to absolve themselves from the need to act on an individual level.

This is not an either-or situation and, while we’re all arguing, the spaceship is getting hotter, the food is getting nastier, and more people are dropping dead. So, move. Get something done, plant a forest or whatnot. It beats sitting around arguing about whose fault it is.

Those who know me, are aware of how intense I get whenever the climate cause pops up in a discussion. To get an idea of how I feel about it, imagine being in a spaceship flying through the cold void and the crew messing with the life support systems for profit. I bet you wouldn’t keep your mouth shut. I bet you would take action.

Having said that, the climate crisis is the result of a million social and economic ills that are not always black and white. There is no silver bullet for this problem and it can become overwhelming.

Which begs the question; What Can I Do? Assuming you don’t have a ton of influence, what can you do to help?

The Eden Reforestation Projects have a useful link about ways you can contribute; https://edenprojects.org/waystohelp/

Reforestation is not only about having nice green to hike through, and forget about the contribution to atmospheric oxygen (plankton does the heavy lifting in that regard). It’s about maintaining ecosystems, soil health, preventing runoff into the ocean, and pulling greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. And, of course, it’s about supporting the local communities that rely on forests for climate regulation. Without them, entire towns would get swept away by mud every time it rained. I’d know, I’ve seen it happen.

Please help protect the planet. It’s the only one we have.