Mike Parker, Chairman of SeSaME, writes…
APPARENTLY many animals display what is called “Displacement Activity.” Researchers describe it as when an animal is conflicted between two drives, like the desire to approach an object, whilst also fearful of that object. Often illustrated as a smaller gorilla grooming a bigger one, who sees them as a threat.
Those cheeky researchers say it also applies to us, supremely clever, wise masters of the earth, homo sapiens. What do you think?
After two centuries of fossil fuels environmental pollution, we certainly face tsunami scale threats over the next decade. A climate emergency average gorillas couldn’t imagine, let alone sort out.
In America a family waking up one morning, seeing a glimpse through their window of the usual flames, sat down to breakfast relaxed, confident after decades of managed seasonal fires. Shortly afterwards, hearing the roar of an unexpected inferno, they grabbed what they could escaping astounded, with minutes to spare, onto a fire ravaged road. Returning later incredulously to a pile of warm ashes.
Is there a sophisticated solution needed? No, following the science for us master mammals is simple.
Stop mining coal; cease new oil and gas drilling, stop their huge subsidies, close established sites asap. End releasing sewage into waterways and oceans; stop destroying woodlands; end burning heather. Integrate cycle routes to most roads; drastically improve public transport; increase distribution and achieve compatibility of EV charging points. Fund local authorities to co-ordinate local housing insulation and carbon refits; stop building new properties that aren’t zero carbon or carbon ready. Promote all local renewable energy sources, particularly onshore wind.
Yet could some of what humans do, facing such a feared future, be described as displacement activity?
Like: considering a new coal mine in Cumbria and a new oil field off Shetland. New £27bn road building programmes; planning airport expansions; playing mix-n-match with EV charging points. Imposing fossil fuelled new house builds on rural and suburban communities; re-organising local authority boundaries. Re-structuring the NHS, Social Services and Education. Revealing a “Ten Point Plan” for the future.
If I was a mountain gorilla, looking down at humans below, I might just begin to feel smug about my displaced grooming antics.