An intriguing real-life, murder investigation from small town Alabama leaves Russell Jones pondering on what value there is in trying to save the planet on your own.

If you’ve not heard of S-Town then you should really get on trend and listen to this incredibly popular podcast now.  Released on 28 March, it was downloaded a record-breaking 10 million times in just four days.

The podcast is an example of investigative journalism at its best, hosted by Brian Reed and created by the same people who produced Serial and This American Life.

The story involves the suspicions of local clock repairer, John B. McLemore or ‘John B’ as he is known, who emails the producers of This American Life to ask them to investigate an alleged murder and cover up in Woodstock, Bibb County, Alabama. S-Town is his name for Woodstock and you can obviously imagine what the S stands for.

Don’t worry, I am not going to give any spoilers away here – but you do need to listen to this moving story – it goes off in directions you simply won’t see coming!

One thing I will reveal – although in no way will it diminish your listening, is that John B is an environmentalist who struggles to get anyone else in his community to understand just how potentially serious climate change and global warming are to our future.

We know how easy it is to ignore ‘scary things’ like climate change and think that there’s nothing you as an individual can do. But that is exactly my point.

Russell Jones2 Russell Jones PR & Communications Manager

It would be easy to write off this self-confessed ‘redneck’ community and the ignorance of his neighbours or their lack of desire to even want to think about bigger things but I think it tells us more about modern society in general than it does about ‘Hicksville, USA’.

We have seen a rise in the advancement and sometimes election of populists who spout easy answers to some of the more difficult issues we all face. 

And ignorance! Well, that is not just an American phenomenon as I believe the ‘arguments’ and noise from both sides of the Brexit debate clearly demonstrate.

As my colleague and fellow blogger, Ellina Webb says in her piece about the environmental lessons we can learn from Dr Seuss and The Lorax - “In 2015 The Telegraph reported on a government survey that showed how only 18% of Britons are “very concerned” about climate change”.

We know how easy it is to ignore ‘scary things’ like climate change and think that there’s nothing you as an individual can do. But that is exactly my point. 

It is ONLY by doing what you can as an individual that we will make anything happen. 

Of course government, legislators and business too have a vital role to play but if we all wait around for someone else to do something, then we’re in real danger of being too late.

The Guardian newspaper recently announced a major expansion of its environment desk in an article (not available online yet) by Jonathan Watts, who will be their new global environment editor. The title of the piece? "Environment. Why everything else comes second".

There’s an important quote in the piece where Jonathan Watts says: “The environment is not a subject – it is the prism through which everything else must be seen.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Melting earth

You will take care of it won't you?

Remember - this is the only one YOU'VE got!

 

Climate deniers will continue to deny. Meanwhile, more of the Great Barrier Reef gets bleached, the ice caps continue to melt, and we will even see more droughts, flooding and extreme weather.

Who knows? It may be that this is simply a natural cycle that the earth is going through, despite what the overwhelming majority of scientists say. But the least we can do – all of us, is minimise the effect we have as an individual.

I’m proud to work for a company with a strong desire to minimise our carbon footprint in everything we do – as set out in our Environmental Vision 2021 - 'Making positive contributions to the earth and its people through technology and action' but I’m also conscious of the simple things I can do as an individual to make my own, small contribution.

Recycling, switching off unnecessary lights, not leaving equipment on standby, even driving more smoothly with less braking and ‘racing’ – all of these can make a contribution and show that, regardless of what’s going on around me and what others are doing, I can make a difference.

Going back to S-Town, we don’t all have to end up feeling like John B, a lone voice in the wilderness – and even if we find ourselves in that position, it is possible to take a lot of good self-will and belief in knowing that you yourself are doing the right thing.

Russell Jones is PR & Communications Manager for Mitsubishi Electric Living Environment Systems in the UK.

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