I for climate: MacGregor, Boston USA
Introducing I for climate, a series exploring the ways ordinary people all around the world are making a difference to the climate crisis by living their everyday lives.
They are proof that we don’t need to be world leaders to lead the world; we don’t need to change laws to change our lives.
This week, Louder Than The Storm interviewed MacGregor, a graduate in Natural Sciences from Portsmouth, about voting even when it feels pointless and about being a small part of a big protest.
“Being in green spaces cheers me up”
MacGregor has felt a certain affinity for greener parties for a long time, even before he truly came to terms with their importance. “In the run up to 2005 my dad was driving me and a friend home from a football game and asked us who we would vote for. I said the Greens because they would look after the environment,” he remembers. “At the age of nine I wasn't really thinking about it, I just liked the forests and mountains and rivers and didn't want them to get ruined.”
Since then, MacGregor has learnt much more about the importance of the environment, but he still feels strongly motivated by the greenness of the countryside. “Being a part of green spaces, close to the wildlife and far away from the noise of settlements and roads, might be the thing that most consistently cheers me up and makes me happy.”
“My first contributions to the environmental movement came through my voting behaviour”
In the UK it can feel like voting for a majority party is a wasted vote, as it is so unlikely that they will win a majority – a concern that MacGregor knows all too well. When he reached voting age, he was living in a safe seat for one of the major parties. Directly voting for or against them was unlikely to make a difference to the outcome – so instead, he voted Green.
“Parties like the Greens (or even UKIP) are disproportionately disadvantaged by the first-past-the-post voting system,” MacGregor explains ruefully. However, he fought the apathy that can accompany this realisation, and instead thought of the impact that his single vote could have on other individuals like himself who might begin to change their minds about the value of voting. “There was a very small chance that my single vote would be the one to swing the totals across a threshold that would change someone else’s decision, and in this case it would have had a great deal of effect.”
“My goal is to contribute to sending a message both locally and nationally”
Aside from persuading individuals of the value of voting for what they believe in, MacGregor is quick to point out that whether a party wins the election as a whole is only one facet of the impact that voting can have. Just as important – and certainly just as effective in the long-term – is sending a message to other political parties.
“I wanted to add my voice to the rising number of voters nationally who supported a party willing to advocate significant changes to lifestyle and national priorities,” he explains. “This can help to influence the discourse taking place between the major parties, and push environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. Additionally, I was sending a message to the party itself that they had supporters and that their work was worthwhile.”
“Going to a protest represents more than just standing there”
Away from the formality of the voting system, MacGregor has supported the environmental movement through street protests such as those organised by Extinction Rebellion. “On one level, I am just another body amongst many making a real yet seemingly insignificant contribution to the show of support,” he acknowledges. “However, supporting these events also means making the group seem more attractive, which encourages others to join or return.”
Protests are also unique in their format. “Things as simple as the chants and slogans can really maximise the impact of the protest,” MacGregor says. “But protests are also a chance to invest in yourself as an effective activist; it allows you to learn how to operate in new environments, meet new people and exchange ideas.”
MacGregor captures something which is sometimes overlooked when it comes to individual contributions. We might feel that we are just ‘one person’ in a big crowd – but as with our single vote, that one person could be the link that persuades someone else to join in. It is a kind of domino effect – every single one of us is important in continuing the chain of involvement and impact.
Do you have a story about how you incorporate climate action into your daily life? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written By Louder Than the Storm Creative Team Lead Emma Turner