Sustainability and the Climate Emergency. What can we do?

20 October 2022


This month’s Society of Authors in Scotland blog is a callout for Scottish authors to join the discussion around sustainability and the climate emergency. Can we influence beneficial action and help others face and tackle the crisis?

Are you:

  • already doing something?
  • thinking about it?
  • irritated by government flimflam?

In governments worldwide, almost everyone will agree that something must be done to tackle sustainability and the climate emergency. But how much happens beyond the soundbites? The track records of the world’s governments offer little comfort. Counterproductive actions happen, for example the recent implementing the UK’s new North Sea oil and gas licences which overlap marine protected areas for threatened species

There’s a calamity to avert and time is running out (lovely things, clich├ęs). What are we going to do about it? What must happen right now to prevent disaster? Where do we begin?

“We don’t have time to sit on our hands as our planet burns. It’s life or death.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

‘Surely,’ you might say, ‘it’s something our politicians must sort out’. That’s true. Yet experience demonstrates how, in the interest of political survival, our leaders put Judgement Day on hold whilst sorting out their short-term problems. Problems like staying in power, appeasing factions, etc. They aren’t tuned in to the end of the world even if ultimately they’ll be responsible for it.

In the course of their public duties, political leaders attend presentations by children, young people, scientists and activists. We often see their pious, emotional agreement with every word and concept. Who believes something good will happen? Do you?

How can we, as authors, help to generate insight, interest and action on sustainability and the climate emergency? Could this be where creative thinking, writing and engagement come in?

I remember a quote about change from thirty or forty years ago: “if you don’t know where you’re going, you may wind up someplace else.” The someplace else troubles me.

“The truth is there are no climate leaders. Not yet. At least not among high-income nations.”
Greta Thunberg

When we face the facts through the thoughts of children and young people, we encounter very challenging issues, as a UNICEF report highlighted before COP26:

  • A report of 46,045 children finds that 95% are concerned about climate change.
  • 5% of UK children say climate change will affect their rights
  • 89% feel not enough is being done
  • 81% feel young people are not being listened to
  • The biggest fears are animals becoming extinct, extreme weather, less food and water, poor air quality and harm to people’s health.

What legacy will we leave our children and grandchildren? What can we, as authors, do about it?

If you are interested in joining the discussion about what we as authors can do, email your interest to with CLIMATE CHANGE in the subject line.

Mac Logan

past chair of The Society of Authors in Scotland

Twitter: @Jyngs Blog: JYNGS!

Further reading

  1. Publishing Declares — launched by the Publishers Association, Publishing Declares is a practical industry commitment to protecting the planet’s resources
  2. Sustainability Industry Forum — Britain’s leading trade associations for publishing and bookselling working together to reduce environmental impacts
  3. Read The Bookseller‘s article on the launch of the Sustainability Industry Forum
  4. The SoA stance on sustainability can be read here