The Beginner’s Guide To Saving The Planet

You don’t need the rest of us

William Essex


Protest march. Picture is centred on a poster, “There is no planet B”, with a picture of the earth.
We already have the drawing skills for the thermometers. Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

One thought. Just quickly.

I see a lot about how “we must” change our behaviour to stop climate change, and about how “we” can do it if we “all” act now, and about how there’s still time if “we all” suddenly start doing the exact same thing that we haven’t been doing all along.

And from all of that I get a sense of the sheer impossibility of the task. “We” have never acted together on anything. “We” are not going to start now. So what’s the point?

I might as well fly business-class to the UAE, my plane burning fossil-fuels all the way, and lecture people from there. I mean — why not? I’d get a shiny name-badge and access to the speakers’ lounge and room service. The aircon would be pumping out cold air.


There’s just one tiny, niggling flaw in my despair.

People are doing it for themselves

Every now and then, I find a statistic that suggests we’re getting there. It’s never a headline, because it’s not dramatic enough, but there are already countries drawing significant amounts of their energy from renewable sources.

There are whole states, whole regions that are doing something. Effectively.

And every now and then, just anecdotally, I hear of people who are swapping out their boilers for heat pumps, or installing solar panels, or recycling yoghurt pots as plant pots — nothing big necessarily, but doing something. Effectively.

I’ve met a few of them and seen inside their homes. [Lots of plants.]

And that’s how change happens. People just do it.

Cardboard thermometers at the ready

So how about this? Instead of telling us it’s hopeless unless “we all” do it all at once, how about measuring progress so far — we’re good at measuring things, aren’t we? — and treating the whole problem as, I don’t know how to put this, a community project?

Join us! We’re getting there!

We’ve got this much coming from renewable sources! Look!

If this was an appeal for funds to replace the roof of an old building, it would involve a cardboard thermometer showing how much money has been raised already — and what could be more appropriate?

Change the messaging. Switch the peer-pressure to positive.

We must all do this now!” has run its course.

Try “Join us!

Because there is progress.



William Essex

Former everything. I still write books, I still write stories. Author of The Book of Fake Futures, The Journey from Heaven, Escape Mutation.