Be a starling

Yesterday I read a post on Facebook (you can see the original here) that I want to share with you. This, written by John Taylor, summarises exactly and succinctly what I feel and the message that I try to get across…


Be a starling

I work as a Climate Change Advisor in Suffolk, UK. It fascinates me how people react to documentaries and films on climate change, and what motivates people to act. I’ve seen a lot of messages saying that it is all too much and it makes them depressed. Something that helped me was an analogy I first heard from Systems and Feedback Thinker, David Wasdell. The point he made and that I want to emphasise is this. How we define a problem determines how we react to it. Climate change, we are told is a BIG problem. A favourite analogy among politicians and commenters is that it is like an oil tanker. It is a vast problem with it’s own inertia and a long turning circle. The trouble is, this image creates a psychological disconnect when it comes to individual action. How is me changing a light bulb going to turn this ship around?
But this is not how I see climate change. For me, it is like a murmuration of starlings. It looks big, but look closer and you will see it is really made up of thousands and thousands of smaller individual actions and choices. It is how I heat my house, the type of car you drive, the air conditioning in that office on my street, on everyone’s street. There is no single control room driving this ship, Climate Change is an emergent property of all our individual actions.
And compared to an oil tanker, change in a flock is agile and swift. Yes, please care about the bigger picture, but if you act in the areas that you directly influence, you have the power to be the bird that turns. So do something in your life today, and be proud and tell people about it. The birds around you will see and follow suit, and soon that change will ripple through out the whole flock. If you think of climate change like this, a global response can begin with you.


John Taylor @coppicejt

Every choice you make in life is important – you are important – so do your bit and shout about it from the rooftops (oh and follow John on Twitter).

Thanks to John for allowing me to share his words.

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  1. From one starling to another – murmuring together is a delight.

  2. Thank you for sharing, it’s such a good analogy!

  3. Thanks, I really needed this. The problem seems so huge, I get overwhelmed. But I’m not giving up!

  4. Sue laverack

     /  November 3, 2016

    That is brilliant!

  5. It’s like eating an elephant. One bite at a time. I like the starling analogy. I get frustrated that so many of us are trying so hard and there are so many others who blatantly disregard the need to care. It’s like a drop of water in the desert. But keep trying we must.

  6. It’s a great analogy, and takes away any excuse not to do something, anything. Any action at a micro level can cause change at a macro level.

  7. That’s delightful. What wonderful words to live by, too. Thank you for sharing.

  8. That is brilliant!..From one starling to another – mumbling together is a joy.

  9. I love this, thank you for sharing! 🙂

  10. What a wonderful analogy, and something that helps me to think more about all the little changes I can make 🙂

  11. That is delightful. What magnificent words to live by, as well. Much obliged to you for sharing..That is brilliant!..From one starling to another – muttering together is a delight…


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