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Planet attacks

This isn’t the name of a 50s horror film. It’s a reaction to a real-life crisis – climate change. Kaya Purchase explains how not to succumb to terror and stay optimistic

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” Viktor E. Franklin I would call myself an activist. I participate in petitions.

I write letters to important people on behalf of causes, I’ve been to protests and strikes. I like to educate myself about a wide range of issues and sometimes even write articles about them. However, lately, with increasing frequency I’ve been falling into episodes of extreme disheartenment and despair. In those moments, the magnitude of the world’s problems becomes so overwhelming that I’d rather ignore everything and just pretend it’s not happening. I call these my ‘fantasy’ episodes. I swap my usually favoured insightful documentaries for films and TV dramas – the more fantastical the better. I stop reading the newspapers and read my favourite novels instead. I build a comforting bubble around myself and choose to shut out reality as much as I can. I’d slipped into one of these lapses a couple of weeks ago. And then one single image was powerful enough to snap me out of it. It was an image that swept through Instagram, flaring up people’s anger and igniting their passion. It was the Amazon rainforest on fire. Eerily, two days later, a treasured nature reserve local to my home had a small fire of its own that resulted in some chemical waste being released into the river. I was devastated.

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About Be Kind

Hello, If you’d asked me earlier this year what images the Amazon rainforest conjured up in my mind, it would be densely packed, lush green trees, brightly coloured macaws and chatty toucans living alongside speedy squirrel monkeys and majestic jaguars. Perhaps naively, I assumed that the world’s largest rainforest was a constant – a protected part of our natural landscape, somewhere we can all close our eyes and see images of, like the Alps or the river Nile. But, over the last few months, this idyllic picture of the Amazon has been destroyed, replaced with haunting and horrifying images of blazing fires and ominous plumes of smoke. Often described as the lungs of the planet, the Amazon now looks like it’s starting to choke. The anthropogenic impact we have had on some of the most vital natural resources on the planet is really starting to show. The notion of constants is changing, too – our glaciers are melting, our rainforests are being destroyed, our rivers are polluted and our coastlines eroded – the landscape of our planet as we know it looks set to continue to transform and degrade. As bleak a future as I’m describing, it’s not all doom and gloom and there are many things we can do to help. We want the future generations to close their eyes and picture the toucans, not the burning embers of what was once the greatest rainforest on Earth. We need to act, and we need to do it now. Have a great month, Phillipa Editor